Web site offers information for visiting Baha'i gardens, shrines

March 19, 2009

HAIFA, Israel — A new Web site with information for visiting the Baha'i shrines and gardens in Haifa and Acre was introduced today by the Baha'i International Community.

The Web site gives details about tours, hours, and the gardens themselves, as well as information about visiting the Shrine of Baha'u'llah in Acre and the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa. The shrines are the resting places of the founders of the Baha'i Faith.

Letting people know what to expect when they visit the properties is a major aim of the Web site, said Albert Lincoln, secretary general of the Baha'i International Community. The site gives maps and suggestions for visitors, answers frequently asked questions, and also notes when people might find the gardens closed, such as on Baha'i holy days.

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Details of tours, hours of opening, and information about visiting the Baha'i shrines in Haifa and Acre is available on the Web site.

The launch of the Web site - called "The Baha'i Gardens" - coincides with an expanded array of public tours.

Half a million people come to the properties each year, making them among the most visited sites in the eastern Mediterranean region. Last year the shrines and gardens were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list as having "outstanding universal value" for humanity.

A major impetus for creating the Web site was to make visitor information available in the local languages, Mr. Lincoln said. In addition to English, the site already offers Hebrew, and Arabic will be added as soon as possible. Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel.

Public tours have changed in that people may check the Web site for the hours of the main "Panorama Tour" and the languages in which it is offered. Reservations are no longer required.

More specialized tours are available for groups, depending on their interests. Such tours must be arranged ahead of time.

"Organized groups often want a more in-depth experience," Mr. Lincoln said. "They want to learn more, in addition to visiting the gardens."

Besides providing practical details for visitors, the new Web site includes information about the Baha'i Faith and also such resource material as extracts from an architectural study of the Baha'i properties in Acre and Haifa.

The address of the new Web site is www.ganbahai.org.il.