Elijah’s Cave, Haifa Cable Cars and Stella Maris Monastery

IMG_4719Just up the hillside from the National Maritime Museum and the Clandestine Immigration and Navy Museum, Elijah’s cave is a small, but significant religious site. It is revered as holy by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike as a cave where Elijah stayed on his way to battle the priests of Baal. Reaching the cave and surrounding buildings requires a bit of hiking/walking up the hill. We had our trusty stroller with us, and I was able to find a mostly stroller accessible route from the off ramp of Route 4. It required hauling the stroller up and down about 15 stairs to reach the cave area. There is limited parking along the street. Besides the cave, there are a few terraces, a picnic area, restrooms and places to light candles and pray outside the cave.

IMG_4720Because of the sacred nature of the site to so many of the visitors, we did not spend too much time inside with my noisy kids. I was surprised by how decorated the cave was by the different religious groups. There were worshipers inside praying and reading scriptures. Apparently, the divider in the middle of the room is to segregate the male and female visitors while they offer their prayers, but I did not know that, so I walked along both sides of the divider checking it out. I brought a scarf and chose to cover my head like many of the visitors, but there was not someone at the door enforcing women’s head covering. IMG_4722

IMG_4725 In the Jewish faith, one of the Passover traditions is to leave a chair open for Elijah the prophet. It makes sense, then, that there was a collection of giant, decorated “Elijah” chairs at Elijah’s cave. What was the most inspirational thing for me at Elijah’s cave was seeing the Muslim and Jewish people coming together to worship at one religious site. There is so much that divides people, especially in Israel. Haifa is a great example of Arabs and Jews living peacefully together, and Elijah’s cave was an embodiment of that sentiment. Because of the kiddos, our visit to Elijah’s cave only took about 20 minutes. It would be easy to add on as a side destination when visiting the nearby museums or the Stella Maris monastery and cable car. IMG_4732

Just across highway 4 from Elijah’s cave are the Stella Maris cable cars. When I tried to figure out how exactly to walk to the monastery from our hotel, it involved way too many steep hills, so taking the cable car was a good option for us!

IMG_4736 The lower cable car loading platform and ticket booth is on the 2nd floor, and is accessible by stairs on the beach side of the building, and by ramp on the inland side. Situated right in the middle of the Bat Galim beach neighborhood of Haifa, the views from the cable car were incredible! My boys loved it, although it did freak us out a little that the doors did not close until after we started moving, and they stayed open a few inches. Logically, I knew that my children could not fit through the gap to fall out, but I was still scared!

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Inside the cable car selfie!

IMG_4744 IMG_4754Even though it was not a super clear day, the views were incredible as we climbed the hill. The turquoise water, the ships dotting the shoreline, the wildflower-covered mountains, it was amazing!

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Pesky door gap- making me worry needlessly

When we got to the top cable car station, there were tons of people there filming an Israeli show. So, maybe we’ll be on TV someday! Stella Maris lighthouse is located right on top of the bluff, but is not open for visitors at this time. A lookout over the Mediterranean beside the cable car station made from breathtaking views.

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View from the top!

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Stella Maris monastery has a long and storied past. The original monastery was built near the site believed to be Elijah’s Cave during the Crusades. Monks living in caves in the cliff near Elijah’s cave were organized into the Carmelite order and built the monastery here . Over the centuries, it was rebuilt or demolished several times depending on who was in power. Napoleon and his troops used the building as a hospital!  It was rebuilt for the final time in the 1830s. The gorgeous and detailed ceiling paintings were completed in the early 1900s. I had read that the acoustics in the chapel were amazing, and so when a large tour group came in and started singing in perfect harmony, it was an  opportunity to enjoy the great acoustics! Of course, we did not get to dwell on that for long, because Landon found some dirt and could not be moved for a few minutes while he played. IMG_4770

IMG_4771 Although we had just visited the Jew’s, Christian’s and Muslim traditional site of Elijah’s cave, Stella Maris monastery has their own version of Elijah’s cave right under the altar!

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IMG_4790On the way back down the cable cars, I couldn’t help but snap some pictures of the mountainside and how many flowers were in bloom! Elijah’s cave, the Stella Maris cable cars, and Stella Maris chapel were three little sites close together near Bat Galim and the National Maritime museum. At Elijah’s cave it was inspiring to see people from different backgrounds coming together to worship at one holy site. These attractions were not very stroller accessible, but there was stroller parking at the cable car. I would suggest putting babies into the baby carrier of your choice for these places! Check out the Bat Galim and Stella Maris areas of Haifa- it is a great area!

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