Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery

Top choice church

in Haifa
Image by Shujaa_777 / Shutterstock
Image by Shujaa_777 / Shutterstock

The Carmelite Order was established in the late 12th century when Crusader-era pilgrims, inspired by the prophet Elijah, opted for a hermitic life on the slopes of Mt Carmel. Today the order lives on around the world and in the 'Star of the Sea' monastery, whose current building was constructed in 1836 at the northern tip of Mt Carmel. The sea views are magnificent. Wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders; men should remove hats.

Inside the church, the beautifully painted ceiling and dome portray Elijah and the chariot of fire in which he is said to have 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.

On the path leading to the church entrance, a pyramid with a wrought-iron cross on top serves as a memorial for 200 sick and wounded French troops, hospitalised here, who were slaughtered by the Ottomans after Napoleon returned to Paris in 1799.

The monastery is accessible by cable car from Bat Galim's seafront promenade and by bus 115 from Hadar and Haifa-Hof HaCarmel; by buses 30 and 31 from Carmel Centre; and on foot from near Elijah's Cave.