Haifa Things to Do Tips by gilabrand Top 5 Page for this destination
Haifa Things to Do: 109 reviews and 217 photos
Albert Einstein was here
TECHNODA - NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
“Gila will never be a scientist,” Mr. Lucas, my 7th grade science teacher, informed my mother. Despite this dismal evaluation of my abilities, which was sadly true, Mr. Lucas would probably jump for joy to hear that I very much enjoyed my visit to the National Museum of Science and Technology in Haifa (known in Hebrew as “Muzeon Hamada” or “Techno-da”).
Don’t miss it! Apart from the beautiful landmark building (it was built in the early 20th century to house the Technion, Israel’s version of MIT), this museum is great fun. With zillions of hands-on, “push the button,” type exhibits in room after room devoted to things like color, light, puzzles, aeronautics, DNA, chemistry, auto safety, optical illusions, mirrors, printing, waves, energy, etc., you are bound to learn something without even trying. For history buffs, there are collections of old historic photos, old machines and gadgets, inventions by Leonardo de Vinci, and much more. Recent exhibits were devoted to dinosaurs and human anatomy (the controversial German exhibit of plasticized humans was on show here).
And who planted two of the soaring palm trees in the boulevard that leads up to the front door? Albert Einstein and his wife, when they visited in 1924.
Tip: If you don’t like crowds, stay away on Saturdays. This is the day when the museum is deluged by families with kids.
Winter hours (September-June): Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m; Tues – 9 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Friday – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Sat – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Summer hours (July-August): Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs , Sat – 10 a.m.-6 p.m; Tues – 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Friday – 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Address: 25 Shmaryahu Levin Street, Hadar Hacarmel
Directions: Free parking on Saturday
Parking during the week at HaMashbir department store garage
Buses from Egged station in Bat Galim: 37, 28, 21
Buses from Hamifratz station: 111, 112
Carmelit: Get off at Hanevi’im
If Haifa is famous for anything nowadays, it has to be the Bahai temple and gardens on the slope of Mount Carmel. According to a recent newspaper article, almost half of all tourists to Haifa go there just to see the gardens (now a World Heritage Site). Tours are free, but you need to call in advance to join one of the groups that go either up or down the mountain. The tour guides will tell you the story of Siyyud Ali Muhammad, aka the Bab (meaning “door”), who invented a new religion in mid-19th century Iran, which got him executed by a firing squad.
His remains were hidden by his followers for 60 years, until they were buried in a mausoleum on the Carmel.
The Bab prophesied the coming of the Baha’ullah (meaning “splendor of God”), who was thrown into a dungeon in Tehran, exiled four times and finally imprisoned in Akko. After spending so much time in dark, damp jail cells, maybe it is not that strange that the founders of the Bahai religion hailed light as a metaphor for spiritual illumination, and lush gardens became a synonym for spiritual life.
So yes, by all means go see the Bahai gardens. They are gorgeous – no question about it. But I must tell you that as I walked through this paradise on earth some years ago, I felt a vague sense of unease. The perfection and symmetry are not to be believed. The gardeners use rulers and measuring tapes when they do their pruning to insure that every plant and hedge is perfectly uniform in shape and size. So you are walking through a Garden of Eden - but it is a very controlled one, with very little left up to nature.
Not long ago, I saw a TV documentary about the Bahai that backed up my intuition that there is something vaguely sinister about the place. It turns out that underneath the fabulous terraced gardens laid out with such precision is a gigantic underground hideout complete with bomb shelters, conference rooms, doctors’ clinics, dining hall, supermarket and parking garages – all spotlessly shiny and clean…and eerily empty.
Directions: Modest dress required.
There are three entrances: Yefe Nof Street (upper level) , Ha'tzionut Ave (Shrine & garden), Hagefen Square (lower level).
Reservation office is closed on Friday & Saturday.
Another freebie: Bathroom art , Talpiot market
Haifa is a beautiful city, but tends to fall under the radar in the tourist department. So here are a couple of free attractions to whet your appetite:
· Hecht Museum – art and archaeology, on the campus of Haifa University, on the Carmel (Sun/Mon/Wed/Thurs 10 am – 4 pm; Tues. until 7 pm; Fri. 10 am – 1 pm; Sat. 10 am –2 pm)
· Castra Biblical Doll Museum – dolls handmade by a Holocaust survivor who says they saved her life, Castra Mall (Sun – Thurs 10 am – 9 pm; Fri. 9 am – 2 pm; Sat. 10am – 2 pm)
· Bahai Gardens – incredibly gorgeous and free, but you need to call and make a reservation (8 am – 5 pm)
· Elijah’s Cave – religious site so dress accordingly, Allenby Street (Mon-Thurs 8 am – 5 pm; Fri 8:30-12:45)
· Ursula Malbin sculpture garden – grassy garden full of delightful bronze statues of children and animals, no need to be an art connoisseur to appreciate these, Hazionut Street overlooking the Bahai Gardens
· Carmelite Monastery – religious site, so again, cover up, Stella Maris next to a fabulous lookout over Haifa Bay
If you’ve been to Haifa's Japanese art museum, where everything is arranged with clockwork precision, leaving lots of air and space, the Mane-Katz Museum on the top of the Carmel is very much the opposite. The old high-ceilinged stone house given to Mane-Katz by the mayor of Haifa in 1958 is practically bursting at the seams.
Paintings are hung from floor to ceiling, and the rooms are packed with an incredible assortment of Judaica and objects d’art. The atmosphere is more flea market than museum. As an artist, Mane-Katz was kind of middling (in my opinion) but he was a collector par excellence. It is worth visiting the museum for his ethnological collection alone.
Although Mane-Katz never lived here, it feels like you are walking into his private chambers. Apart from his paintings and sculptures, the furniture itself – the cabinets, the four-poster canopy bed, the Oriental carpets - are works of art.
Moving from room to room, you hardly know where to look first. Velvet holy ark coverings, Hanukkah lamps, Sabbath candlesticks, intricate paper-cuts and illuminated ketubot sit side-by-side with sketches by his famous artist friends, including a signed charcoal portrait of Mane-Katz by Picasso from 1932.
Mane-Katz was born in Ukraine in 1894 and moved to Paris at the age of 19. He studied art there, and became affiliated with “Jewish School of Paris.” It is interesting to see how his palette changed over the years, from very dark and somber to bright and almost garish. The themes changed too, from classic still-lifes and portraits, to Jewish folklore: dancing Hasids, floating animals, fiddlers, weddings, scenes from the European shtetl. Think Marc Chagall. Actually, his father wanted him to be a rabbi…
Mane-Katz always said that his real home was Paris, but Israel was his spiritual home. He first visited Palestine in 1928, along with a trip to Egypt and Syria, and after that, made a point of coming every year. Four years before his death, the city of Haifa provided him with this venue for his collection.
Address: 89 Yeffe Nof Street, Haifa
Directions: Behind the Nof Hotel, near the Louis Promenade. Enter through the iron gate and walk down the stairs.
Hours: Sun. Mon. Wed. Thurs - 10 am - 4 pm; Tues. 2 pm-6 pm; Sat. - 10 am -2 pm
Entrance fee - NIS 12
Technion - Civil Engineering Building
I have a confession to make. I grew up in a very non-scientific home. My father was a rabbi and a historian. My mother was a teacher of Hebrew and Bible. I was terrible in math and science from the time I can remember myself, and my parents, no math geniuses or scientists themselves, had great empathy for me (at least in this respect).
I didn’t even know what an engineer was. For me, an engineer was someone who drove a train. And then, ladies and gentlemen, I married one. A graduate of the Technion, no less, Israel’s leading school for science and technology, sometimes compared to M.I.T. (although I’m not qualified to say if that comparison is valid or not).
The Technion opened its doors in 1924 with 16 students. After moving to its present campus on Mt. Carmel in 1953, the old historic building was turned into a science museum. Today the Technion has something like 85 buildings and 12,800 students. One of them, incidentally, is my son, who hopes to complete his studies in civil engineering this year.
In the spirit of science and technology, here are some facts and figures: According to the Technion website, 135 out of every 10,000 workers in Israel are scientists and engineers (second only to the U.S.). Nine out of every 1,000 workers are engaged in R&D (twice as many as in the U.S. and Japan). And last but not least, 74% of the managers of Israeli electronic industries hold Technion degrees.
Now the Technion has something else to boast about: a pair of home grown Nobel Prize winners. Professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion Faculty of Medicine received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the crucial role of ubiquitin in the process of protein breakdown in cells.
Address: Kiryat Hatechnion, Haifa
Tatumi zori - Japanese sandals
When I was little, I used to wonder about that Mother Goose nursery rhyme “Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it…” How could she have lost her pocket? After visiting the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, it dawned on me: Pockets were not always sewn on.
Take the kimono, for instance. A lovely garment, to be sure. But it had no pockets. So the Japanese invented a gadget to solve the problem – a netsuke, a miniature carving made of wood, ivory, bone or other materials. If you wanted to carry something in 17th-19th century Japan, you hung it on your belt with a cord. The netsuke was an accessory that kept this dangling pocket or pouch from falling off.
These tiny sculptures, in the shape of imaginary animals, demons, human figures, etc. were no larger than 5 cm in height and according to the rules of netsuke-making, they had to be able to stand. Felix Tikotin seems to have been particularly fond of them: At the Haifa museum, there’s a whole room full.
As Western-style clothing came into vogue, Japanese craftsmen stopped producing netsuke and they became collectors’ items. But there is someone who still makes them: George Weill, a London-born Jew who lives in Israel. Last year, the Tikotin Museum mounted a show of his work.
“Netsuke are not perceived by everyone as genuine art,” Weill told an interviewer. “Today, any son of a *** can pick up a brush and declare himself an artist. The thing about netsuke is how it embodies the absolute essence of art. It’s a format that allows you to walk around with an intricately carved sculpture on your person. You can’t do that with a Henry Moore.”
Address: 89 Hanassi St., Haifa
Directions: Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, next to Dan Carmel Hotel
TIKOTIN MUSEUM OF JAPANESE ART
On the top of Mt. Carmel, sandwiched between the hotels and pretty much eclipsed by them, is a museum devoted entirely to Japanese art. The building itself is low-slung, and partly obscured by shrubbery. A polished wooden walkway on the side of the building leads up to the entrance, hidden from the street by graceful stalks of bamboo.
So why is there a Japanese museum in Haifa? It all began with a German Jew named Felix Tikotin (his family probably came from the town of Tikocyn on the Polish Russian border), who studied architecture in Munich and fell in love with Japanese art after a visit to…Paris. From that moment on, he became a collector. In April 1927, he opened a gallery of Japanese art in Berlin. In 1932, his private collection was exhibited in Copenhagen. When the show was over, he went to Denmark to help pack up, only to find that the whole collection had been shipped off to Holland by a friend for fear that it would be confiscated by the Nazis, who had just come to power.
Tikotin followed his collection and settled in Amsterdam, where he married and had two daughters. When the Germans invaded Holland, they went into hiding and the collection was stolen. But love is love… After the war, he went back to collecting Japanese art. In 1950, the Dutch police caught a bunch of thieves trying to smuggle Japanese art across the border. The authorities turned to him as an expert – and he discovered it was his own collection.
After visiting Israel in 1956, Tikotin made up his mind that this is where his valuable collection of 7,000 Japanese artworks - prints, miniature carvings, manuscripts, antique swords, painted screens, tea bowls, kimonos, etc. – should be. The mayor of Haifa, Abba Khoushy, liked the idea and an exhibition hall was built, incorporating various features of Japanese architecture.
I am not the world’s greatest fan of Japanese art, but I did enjoy a stroll around the museum. The netsuke (see my next tip) are particularly charming.
Address: 89 Hanassi St., next to the Dan Carmel Hotel
Directions: Opening hours: Mon., Wed., Thurs. - 10 to 4 p.m.; Fri. - 10 to 1 p.m.; Sat. - 10 to 3 p.m.; Sun. - closed
View from the promenade
The Louis Promenade, known to one and all as “the Tayelet,” is probably one of the few flat stretches of land you will find in Haifa. Haifa is a city of hills. Wherever you are headed, you face a steep incline (except on the way back, of course). On top of that, many of the homes are perched on hills and built on pillars, so you have to climb several flights of stairs just to get to the front door. Staying in Haifa for any length of time is good for the calf muscles.
For those in the know, there are stairways that cut through the streets, from the top of the Carmel down to the historic old city. From what I understand, there are maps of these “stair trails” that can help you navigate, taking you through different neighborhoods and giving you a taste of the city’s unique topography.
But when you tire of these ups and downs, take a stroll on the Louis Promenade, which runs along Yefeh Nof Street (also called Panorama Road), directly behind the strip of hotels on Hanassi Street. This walkway, which passes through a lovely shady park, was built by a Haifa couple in memory of their son, Louis Ariel Goldschmidt. It offers a stunning view of the lower city and Haifa Bay. On a clear day, you can see Rosh Hanikra, Akko and even Mt. Hermon. From the promenade, there are steps leading down to the gates of the Bahai Gardens.
When I was there in the morning it was sort of hazy, but here’s a tip for photographers: Come in the afternoon and you’ll get much sharper pictures. For a completely different view, come at night and see the bay lit up with thousands of twinkling lights.
Free guided tours in Hebrew and English leave from the entrance to the promenade (89 Yefe Nof St.), opposite the Mane Katz Museum, every Saturday at 10:15 a.m. I was on one of these tours (the Hebrew one) and found the guide extraordinarily knowledgeable and bubbling with stories about Haifa that you won't find anywhere else.
Directions: For more info on the tours, call 04-8535606.
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