by Yael Adar
At the foot of Haifa's Bahai Gardens, lies the old German Colony.
In 1868 Christoph Hoffman and Georg David Hardegg came from Wuttemberg, Germany to Haifa. They were members of the Templar Society (not to be confused with the Knights of the Templars). At the time, Haifa was a town of 4,000 people. The Templars are just one of the groups credited with Haifa's development at the time. It was around this time that the Baha `u' llah, (founder of the Bahai religeon) arrived in Haifa.
The Templars purchased land that was far from the city and set out to build the first planned agricultural community in the Holy Land. Hardegg stayed and established the community in Haifa, while Hoffman established the second Templar community in Jaffa.
The colony's main street was one of the most beautiful streets built during that era and was cause for much admiration. The street was 30 meters wide and had trees on both sides. The houses were built of stone, under the supervision of the architect Ya'akov Shumacher and boasted red-shingled roofs.
Today, this area (primarily Ben Gurion Boulevard, which is also where the Haifa Tourist Board is located, see separate note) is undergoing renovations. The renovators have placed signs in front of various buildings. This enables anyone interested in learning more about the beginnings of the colony an opportunity to take a self guided tour of the area.
The most significant building being renovated is the former Beit Am (House of the People), one of the first buildings built in the colony. It served as a place of worship and community center. Located at 11 Ben Gurion Boulevard, the building's rennovation will be complete in roughly 18-20 months.
Even if you don't have time to walk in this area it's worth going to Ben Gurion Boulevard - just to look up the mountain and see a unique view of the new Bahai terraced Gardens.
The Haifa Tourist Board, is located at 48 Ben Gurion Boulevard, right in the Germany Colony.