By: Joan Gross
The Gardens in Haifa are deservedly better known. They regally step up the mountain side, with measured plateaus boasting gurgling fountains and beautiful walkways. They are far more grandiose and opulent. That said, a visit to the “other” Bahai Gardens in Akko are definitely worth it.
The Akko Bahai Gardens (which are really between Akko and Naharyia, are flat and straight forward. Visitors have more access because other than the rule of staying on the walkways, you are allowed to walk through the entire garden, whereas the Haifa gardens allow entry only on the plateaus.
Along the walkway are flowering shrubs.
The shrine is a rectangular building constructed around a tree-lined, plant filled, courtyard. On three sides are prayer rooms with lush carpets over rattan on the floors and narrow, smaller carpets on the walls. The hushed atmosphere is reinforced by the Bahai Garden policies: take your shoes off before coming inside, do not speak and turn off your cell phones.
In the Garden, every flower and bush are nuanced. Gardeners pull off dead flowers, the grass and bushes are trimmed as carefully as a king’s servant shaving his highness under the threat of death if he draws blood. The beauty is photographed below:
The visitors to the Gardens were as interesting a mix as the flowers. There were Arabs, the men dressed in American style clothing (jeans and a polo) and the women in tight jeans, fitted tops, and head coverings; there were Americans (one young lady brought two large scarves with her–one to cover her legs and one her shoulders), and a young Israeli couple, obviously in love and oblivious to everyone else.
On the way back to the bus stop I saw a lone Israeli soldier going to see the site. He was in his early twenties and was reading the newspaper as he walked.
The quietness of the garden, the aura and aroma of the flowers, and the variety of people there, radiated the thoughts that beauty and peace are a remarkable and desired state of mind to obtain on the visit and to retain upon your return to the real world.