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Haifa's neighbourhoods form an intriguing kaleidoscope: its smart German Colony, teeming Arab-Christian quarter and edgy Masada St each add their own verve to the port city. Posing above roaring traffic and dockside bustle is Haifa's most celebrated sight, a Baha'i shrine and tropical gardens. Tumbling down the flanks of Mt Carmel (546m), the gardens bestow a radiant symmetry on this complex city, whose atmosphere can change from placid to fast-paced in the space of a few steps.

British planners intended Haifa to serve as the Levant's main port and transport hub. That vision ended in 1948, when much of the city's Arab population were expelled or fled. Today the city is proud to serve as a model for Jewish-Arab coexistence.

Haifa is an excellent base for exploring the Galilee, about equidistant (less than 45km by road) from Caesarea, Nazareth, and Rosh HaNikra Grottoes.

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