During the Crusades, groups of religious hermits began to inhabit the caves of the Carmel District in emulation of Elijah the Prophet, whose life was strongly identified with this mountain. These monastic hermits were organized into the Carmelite order, which spread throughout Europe. However, the founders on the Carmel range were exiled at the end of the Crusades. The present Carmelite monastery and basilica dates from 1836. With a magnificent view of the sea, the entire ensemble of buildings, including the lighthouse, is known as “Stella Maris.” An earlier monastery complex on this site served as a hospital for Napoleon’s soldiers during his unsuccessful siege of Acre in 1799. The pyramid in front of the church is a memorial to the many abandoned French soldiers who were slaughtered by the Turks after Napoleon’s retreat. The church is a beautiful structure, with Italian marble so vividly patterned that visitors mistakenly think the walls have been painted. Colorful paintings on the dome, done by Brother Luigi Poggi (1924–28), depict episodes from the Old Testament, the most dramatic being the scene of Elijah swept up in a chariot of fire; the statue of the Virgin Mary, carved from cedar of Lebanon, is also notable. The cave, situated below the altar, is believed to have been inhabited by Elijah. From Stella Maris, Haifa’s little aerial cable car can take you down to the Bat Galim Beach Promenade, where you can walk in the Mediterranean or dine at waterfront eateries.
Stella Maris Lighthouse, Church and Carmelite Monastery
Stella Maris Rd
Our Rating Hours Daily 8am–12:30pm and 3–6pm Transportation Bus: 25, 26, or 31 Phone 04/833-7758 Other Modest dress required. Free admission
MapStella Maris Rd Haifa
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