Restoration work begins on Shrine of the Bab

28 December 2008

HAIFA, Israel — Work has begun on a four-year restoration project on the golden-domed Shrine of the Bab, one of the holiest sites in the Baha’i world and Haifa’s best-known landmark.

The Shrine of the Bab stands at the center of the Baha’i gardens, on the side of Mount Carmel overlooking Haifa Bay and the Mediterranean Sea. The gardens and shrine are among the most visited sites in Israel.

The domed structure was completed 55 years ago and now requires restoration and updating, including structural reinforcement against earthquakes, restoration of stonework, replacement of iron decorative elements with stainless steel, upgrading of the electrical system, and refurbishment of the dome with new tiles.

There will be no change in the design, use or general appearance of the building.

The work will be undertaken in such a way to keep the shrine open to both Baha’i pilgrims and the general public throughout most of the project, except during summer months. Starting in May or June of 2009, the structure will be covered with scaffolding and canvas sheeting for about two years. The project will cost approximately US$6 million, with funds coming entirely from the voluntary contributions of the Baha’is of the world.

The shrine is the burial place of the Bab, revered by Baha’is as a Messenger of God and one of the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith.

The Bab was executed in 1850 in the public square in Tabriz, Iran, and His remains later brought to Haifa, where they were laid to rest in the present location in 1909.

The original building covering the tomb was a one-story rectangle. The domed superstructure – made of granite and marble quarried in Italy, with gilded roof tiles from the Netherlands – was added later and was completed in 1953.

The burial place of the Bab, and that of Baha’u’llah near Acre, north of Haifa, are considered by Baha’is to be the most sacred places on earth. Earlier this year, the two shrines and their surrounding gardens were chosen by UNESCO as World Heritage sites – part of the cultural heritage of humanity.