The Baha’i faith, established by Baháʼu’lláh in the 19th century, is a unique religion with a unique history.
You may have read about the magnificent the Shrine of the Bab and its terraced gardens in Haifa on this website. However, this complex is only the second holiest and most important site for the Baha’is, as the followers of the Baha’i religion are called. The holiest site is the Shrine of the Baháʼu’lláh and Baha’i gardens in the city of Akko (Acre), not too far away from Haifa
The Shrine of the Baháʼu’lláh and gardens complex is the final resting place of the Baháʼu’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith. Baháʼu’lláh was one of the most prominent disciples of the Bab, the founder of Babism (or Babi faith). Following the Bab’s execution in 1850, Baháʼu’lláh was imprisoned as a Babi and eventually sent to exile, during which he founded the Baha’i faith. In other words, the Baha’i faith actually grew out of the Babi faith, and these two religions have almost the same beliefs and doctrines.
The Bab’s remains are interred at the Shrine of the Bab, which is surrounded by the magnificent terraced gardens, called Baha’i Gardens, on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Haifa.
Unlike the Shrine of the Bab and the terraced gardens, the Shrine of the Baháʼu’lláh and the gardens surrounding it are much simpler in comparison. Still, though, they are nothing short of splendid. Baháʼu’lláh’s remains now lie at the shrine itself. The gardens surrounding the shrine, also called Baha’i Gardens, are beautifully and meticulously manicured, typical of a formal garden.
A short history
Mirza Hausayn Ali Nuri, known as Baháʼu’lláh (1817 – 1892), was a disciple of the Bab who continued his missionary efforts. After the Bab was executed in 1850 – only six years after he established the Babi faith and gained thousands of followers – Baháʼu’lláh was sent to exile for several years before he was imprisoned in Akko, where he would spend the rest of his life.
During his house arrest, Baháʼu’lláh lived in the Mansion of Bahji near Akko, which his son ʻAbdu’l-Bahá first rented and then purchased for him. It eventually became the centerpiece of the Baha’i Gardens in Akko.
Through the years, the Baha’i faith first spread to Western Europe, then to North America and the rest of the world.
Visiting the Shrine of the Baháʼu’lláh and the Baha’i Gardens in Akko
The Mansion of Bahji is a summer house where Baháʼu’lláh resided from 1879 until his death in 1892. At the northwest corner of the shrine, there is a small room where Baháʼu’lláh’s remains are laid to rest.
The grounds are open to visitors and tourists of all faiths from 9 AM to 4 PM. They are closed on Baha’i holy days and Yom Kippur. There’s no entrance fee or need to book in advance, so everyone is free to visit the site anytime they wish.
The best times to visit the shrine and gardens are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday between 9 AM to 12 PM. During these hours, the outer and inner gardens, as well as the shrine itself, are open to visitors. But during the remaining operating hours, visitors can only walk around the outer garden, and the shrine and the other buildings are off-limits except for the Baha’i pilgrims.
The lush gardens are well-groomed, dotted with colorful flowers and foliage. If you’re a first-time visitor to Israel, you should include this in your itinerary. Not a lot of people visit the place, so it remains very much a secret.
Despite being in Akko, the Baháʼu’lláh Shrine and the Baha’i Gardens are not within walking distance from the Old City of Akko. Commuting from the Old City to the shrine and gardens takes about 11 minutes via Route 8510.
A few reminders before visiting the Shrine of Baháʼu’lláh and Baha’i Gardens in Akko:
- Both men and women should come to the site appropriately dressed, with knees and shoulders covered.
- The gardens are vast and open. But there aren’t so many trees or any shade to protect the visitors from the hot Israeli sun. Therefore, it is advisable to bring an umbrella, sunscreen, and lots of water.
- Again, no booking is required to visit the site. But if you want a guided tour, you should book one ahead of time.
Shrine of Baháʼu’lláh and Baha’i Gardens in Akko – general information
Usually 9:00 to 12:00, Friday to Monday (for the public)
The entrance is free
How to go to the Shrine of Baháʼu’lláh and Baha’i Gardens:
If you’re going to the shrine and gardens by car or tour, take the National Road 4 to the North Akko junction. When you head south toward the center of Akko, go to the first left turn after 400 meters, then follow the road to the end. The entrance is at the end of the old access road to Kibbutz Shomrat. Parking is free.
Another option is to take the bus line 271 (Haifa to Nahariya). Get off at the Bustan HaGalil bus stop, which is only a few walks away from the garden entrance.