Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab
The opening of 19 terraces mark the culmination of the Baha'i World Centre's development.
The official opening of the 19 terraced gardens that stretch from the base to the crest of Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel, will take place on May 22--the 158th anniversary of the declaration by the Báb of his mission. The Báb, the first of the two founders of the Bahá'í Faith, is buried in the golden-domed Shrine located at the Terraces' heart on "the mountain of the Lord."
For Bahá'ís worldwide, this event marks the culmination of a process of development at their World Centre that began more than a century ago. In 1891, Bahá'u'lláh pointed out to his son 'Abdu'l-Bahá the location of the permanent resting place for the remains of the Báb, his forerunner. 'Abdu'l-Bahá erected a modest mausoleum and interred the remains of the Báb there in 1909, under difficult circumstances.
The subsequent growth and development of the surrounding gardens mirrored the evolution and expansion of the Bahá'í community. Planning was systematic, phased and strategic. As the gardens were tended and nurtured, so the global community emerged under the guiding hand of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's appointed successor, Shoghi Effendi. The golden-domed superstructure was completed in 1953 under his supervision.
Nine rudimentary terraces below the Shrine were constructed in the 1930s, and throughout the years other parcels of land were purchased until all the necessary property had been acquired. Extending beyond the immediate area of the Shrine, the gardens transformed the barren mountain slope into a natural sanctuary in the middle of the growing city of Haifa.
The decision in 1987 to complete the gardens and administrative buildings galvanized the millions of Bahá'ís, by then established in more than 150 countries. In 1990, the latest phase of development commenced, with the construction of the 19 terraces designed by Canadian architect Fariborz Sahba, who has also served as project manager for the complex.
In the face of renewed persecution of the Bahá'ís in Iran during this period, the worldwide community gathered the necessary financial and human resources, and the mountain was reshaped. The Terraces now stretch a kilometer up the mountain, reaching a height of 738 feet, and their landscape spans the mountain from 197 feet to 1,312 feet. In order to create a continuous pedestrian pathway, two bridges have been constructed over cross streets.