Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee

The Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee are inscribed for their profound spiritual meaning and the testimony they bear to the strong tradition of pilgrimage in the Bahá’i faith. The property includes the two most holy places in the Bahá’í religion associated with the founders, the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre and the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, together with their surrounding gardens, associated buildings and monuments. These two shrines are part of a larger complex of buildings, monuments and sites at seven distinct locations in Haifa and Western Galilee that are visited as part of the Bahá’i pilgrimage.

Historical context

As summarised above, the Bahá'í faith originated in 1844 with the declaration of its Prophet-Herald, the Báb, in the city of Shíráz, Iran. The rapid spread of the new creed was met by savage persecution, and the execution of the Báb in 1850. The focal point of the Baha'i faith moved to Western Galilee in 1868 when, after 15 years of wandering in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, the Prophet- Founder, Bahá'u'lláh, who had been expelled from Iran in 1853, was banished to Acre, then a remote part of the Turkish Empire, by the Ottoman Sultan, Abdu'l Aźiz. Bahá'u'lláh spent the remaining 24 years of his life in Acre compiling the scriptures that are the foundation of the Baha'i faith and establishing a spiritual and administrative centre for the religion.

Bahá'u'lláh and his family were confined for two years in the Ottoman citadel of Acre during which time he maintained contact with believers and wrote some of his best known texts, such as the 'Tablet of the Carmel'. In 1870 his youngest son died, falling through a skylight in an incident that Bahá'u'lláh likened to Abraham's intended sacrifice of his son.

When he was finally released from the Citadel, Bahá'u'lláh lived for nine years under house arrest in a succession of houses in the Christian and Muslim neighbourhoods of Old Acre. These included the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, where he died and his mausoleum is housed, and the House of ‘Abdu'lláh Páshá where Abdu'l-Bahá lived until 1911 and where his son Shoghi Effendi was born, and where the remains of the Báb were stored for ten years until moved to the Mausoleum in Haifa.

In 1909 the remains of the Báb, brought from Iran, were buried in a very simple mausoleum in Haifa. This was greatly enlarged in 1953 and adorned with a golden dome. The building is now approached through a kilometre-long garden laid out between 1990 and 2001.

The spiritual and administrative centre established by Bahá'u'lláh has continued to develop until the present day, while the religion has spread first to Western Europe and North America and then to the rest of the world.

The Bahá'í religious community now numbers about five million around the world. It proclaims that the founders of the world's main religions - Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mahommed and Krishna - have been sent by God to educate humanity.

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