Another (too) beautiful weekend took us to Haifa. After having survived the ‘Avatar‘ film experience on Friday night we visited the Ottoman Haifa exhibition open by the Haifa City Museum:

The Web page provides more information about the exhibition as well as more selected images from the exhibition.

city of Haifa Museum

The Museum is hosted by the oldest building in the German Colony of Haifa. Started by Templars in 1868, soon after the 1864 sultan edict that allowed the development of the cities all over the Ottoman Empire, the German colony in Haifa was one of the several settlements established by the German between the 1860s and second world war. The former People’s House was a church and a school at the same time and was recently renovated. The museum is ‘on trial’ for several years, I have visited it for the first time, but judging by the exhibition I have seen it is very much worth a visit.

oldest building in the German Colony in Haifa - 1869

The exhibition contains lithography, paintings, photos and artifacts reflecting the period of the Ottoman rule of Haifa between 1516 and 1918.

While the name of the city is mentioned in the Mishnah and Mount Carmel is considered sacred by the three religios for its association with prophet Elijah (Eliakhu), it was just a small fishermen hamlet until well in the 17th century.

mount Carmel view from the Sea - 1677

Gravures that became popular by the end of the century represented the small village, the monastery at the top of the mountain and the city of Acco much more important  at that time.

Haifa viewed by David Roberts

The city revival starts in the 18th century when rich Arab family start building North of the original hamlet and the harbour develops. yet when the Scottish painter David Roberts arrives and paints the Holy Land in the 19th century his rendition of Haifa from 1839 shows little more than a very pastoral view with a sunset in the best Orientalist tradition.

German Colony in Haifa seen by Jakob Schumacher

Things change with the opening of the foreign presence after 1864, and the German Colony is one of the examples of the development fo Haifa. Here it is how it looked in the 1870s, seen by one of the founders of the colony, Jakob Schumacher.

Haifa photographed by Felix Bonfils c. 1880

The Beirutian photographer Felix Bonfils caught the city around 1880. Other powers beyond Germany invested in the city – for example Russia built part of the harbour. A Persian district was born, populated partly by the believers of the Baha’i faith.The Jewish presence also started during that decade with Jewish immigrants from Europe populating the city, although it will take a long time until Jewish population will become the majority in Haifa – this happened only after the Independence War and the establishment of the State of Israel.

Haifa viewed by Julius Rotschild 1915

By 1915 the city was well developed and shadowed quite for a long while its Northern neighbor Acco. In October 1918 it was conquered by the Indian corps of the British Army, and soon after the British mandated started. The Ottoman period came to its end, and the modern era of the history of the city started.

I also found a collection of photos on youTube with many other interesting aspects from the history of the city, complementing what I saw in the exhibition today.

Back outdoors we had a few more minutes to wonder through the streets of the former German Colony. Many of the houses are renovated, some host restaurants, and the opening of the main street of the area (which is called today Ben Gurion Road) provides nowadays a spendid panorama to the Baha’i gardens on one side and to the sea on the other.

Haifa German Colony building

HaShdera Restaurant in a 1872 building

German Colony area nowadays

Baha'i Gardens viewed from the German Colony main street

The ‘Ottoman Haifa’ exhibition is open at the Haifa City Museum until the end of February.