Haifa is a city with the free and relaxed atmosphere we all look for in a distant and interesting holiday destination. Everyday cares are left far behind, making room for a feeling of fun, touring, and attractions. Haifa, the city of the Carmel, wooded forests and amazing panoramas.
The Louis Promenade is one of the city’s prettiest places for relaxing and strolling with Haifa Bay and the Galilee mountains in the background. The promenade, stretched across the Carmel ridge, provides a comprehensive look at the city, the bay, Acre, Rosh Hanikra, the towns of the Galilee and, of course, the Baha’i Gardens on its slopes.
Every day of the year, Haifa offers entertainment for kids, museums, the zoo and, naturally, white beaches and the blue sea. Haifa’s seashore stretches from Hof Hashaket (Quiet Beach) via the Bat Galim Promenade and from there from there to the Carmel Beach, the Dado Beach Promenade and from there all the way to Atlit. An abundance of places of entertainment, seafront cafes, pubs, restaurants and other centers of activity for the entire family. The magnificent Baha’i Gardens and the great views from it, the German Colony, great museums like Beit Dagan, the Chagall Artists House, the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Railroad Museum, the small but impressive Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art and the National Museum of Science and Technology, which has become an enthralling attraction for the whole family.
Let’s focus on a new and fast-developing area that attracts Haifans and visitors all year long – the Lower City, starting with gastronomy rather than the usual transportation, attractions and art (we’ll get to those later). Like every other city, Haifa requires places to satisfy people’s hunger and thirst. If you’ve chosen the Lower City, I’ve found a place to sit and enjoy good food, quality wine and many kinds of beer. Venya, named after Russian author Venedikt Erofeev and belonging by two young men, Shahar and Uri, is on the seam between art, urban innovation and gastronomy. Chef Shahar Sivan is also a sculptor and painter, previously worked at well-known Tel Aviv restaurants Rafael, Yoezer Ben Yayin and Chakra. Venya calls itself a bistro that old Haifa traditions and the city’s younger generation. The cuisine is simple, influenced by the food of the Mediterranean and particularly the South of France — fresh seafood, cheeses from the Galilee, olive oil from the slopes of Mt. Carmel, quality meats and an abundance of antipasti of herbs, fruits and vegetables that connect with the vineyards of the Golan Heights.
After our meal, we can step out for a sortie around the new complex, Haifa’s Lower City established in 1922-33 during the British Mandate and preserved since then. Designed by Frederick Palmer, the builder of the port whose Palmer Gate bears his name. Under Palmer, the sea which reached the current Jaffa street was drained, and created Hamalachim street – today Haatzmaut street. The port and an urban marketplace flourished in the area for years, but as times changed the area declined into disrepair and neglect.
The Haifa Municipality has initiated a unique renewal project aimed at turning the area into a complex for students. The complex, one kilometer long and 150 meters wide, stretches from the Customs House in the east to the Dagan Silos and railway station in the west, from Haatzamut street to the Haifa Port fence. It includes student residences, campuses of faculties and colleges and new residential construction – as well as restaurants, cafes and shops particularly suited to students’ needs.
Heart of the project is Hanamal street, where Haifa University and the WIZO College of Fashion Design have established branches. The president of Brandies University in Massachusetts said his institution would also set up a branch there, the Carmel Academic Center is located in an old refrigerated warehouse that has been renovated and the Tiltan Design and Art College has been there for a while. Not in a new neighborhood, but downtown, where the Port Campus has breathed new life into the Lower City.
The Turkish Market
The Turkish Market is located between Natanson and Haatzmaut streets. Designed by architect Peretz Kronberg, the market or old commercial center was opened in 1923 and played an important role in urban development. After years of neglect, the area has been revived as a center of entertainment, commerce and residences alongside including a pedestrian mall, boutique hotel, student dormitory, galleries, farmers market, cafes and shops.
The Complex 21 project, in the heart of the Lower City, brings together a new community of artists and designers who get a two-year municipal exemption from rent on spaces where they can produce and market their works. Open till midnight on Thursdays and housing more than 30 shops and galleries, Complex 21 is a key player in the Lower City’s revival.
Among the newcomers who have set up shop in Complex 21 is Ze’ev Silas, whose Port Inn hotel operates in a delightfully renovated old stone building on the corner of Jaffa street, where a short time ago no one dreamed of living. The hotel says it’s open to everyone, from hikers to businesspeople. Special features include a garden in the courtyard and a kitchen where guests can prepare their own meals.
Orly Rodrigue designs maternity clothes in her Lower City studio, to which she moved after spending 15 years in Paris. Her La Robe Bleue collection’s garments for the pregnant woman are feminine, exclusive and fashionable, with a European flair.
Every Haifaite knows Paris Square, the last station of the Carmelit, Israel’s only underground railway. The was in decline until 2006, when visiting Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe decided to help with a major renovation, which has since taken place. With financial participation and cooperation between designers in Paris and Haifa, the square’s face has changed almost completely. The change took place over a year, before the mayor returned to cut the ribbon.
It makes little difference where you choose to sit – in older places like the Sandak (Godfather) and Ogen (Anchor) or in new places like Baraki and Syncopa. You’ll enjoy good beer and music everywhere.
Every evening during the summer, there’s some kind of cultural activity at Paris Square from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. — spinning, Zomba, painting, Pilates, salsa. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Natanson street is closed as Ma’ayan Habira, established in 1950, sets out tables on the thoroughfare and there’s live music.