Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery
- Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery Area
- tel, info: 04 833 7758
- church: 06:00-12:00 & 15:00-18:00
Lonely Planet review for Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery
The Carmelites are a Catholic order that originated in the late 12th century when a band of Crusaders, inspired by the prophet Elijah, opted for a hermetic life on the western slopes of Mt Carmel (hence the name). The desired solitude was rarely granted as, over the centuries, the Carmelites suffered Muslim persecution, frequently having to abandon their monasteries.
Occasionally, the Carmelites did have a hand in their own misfortune, as in 1799 when they extended their hospitality to Napoleon during his campaign against the Turks. The French lost their battle for the region and the Carmelites lost their monastery.
The present monastery and church, built over what the Carmelites believe to be a cave where Elijah lived, dates from 1836 after the previous buildings were destroyed in 1821 by Abdullah, pasha of Akko. It's worth visiting the church to view the beautiful painted ceiling which portrays Elijah and the famous chariot of fire (in which he ascended to heaven), King David with his harp, the saints of the order, the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and David, and the Holy Family with the four evangelists below. A small adjoining museum contains ruins of former cloisters dating from Byzantine and Crusader times.
There is also a cable car (M039A; x833 5970; one-way/return around ₪16/around ₪22; h10:00-18:00) that runs up to the monastery from Bat Galim Promenade below, not far from the cave and museums. While the views from the cabins aren't as good as those from the observation point on Stella Maris Rd up at the top, on a hot day you'd certainly want to skip climbing to the monastery.