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Israeli Baha'i sites recognized by UNESCO
By Hannah Glass
Tags: Israel travel 

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has added the Bahai holy places in Haifa and the Western Galilee to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav and Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri applauded the decision.

During its 32nd session, held in Quebec City on Tuesday, the U.N. committee described the two Bahai shrines in Israel as holding "outstanding universal value" and ought to be included as a member of the cultural heritage of humanity.

The Baha'i shrines are the first sites connected with a relatively new religious tradition to be recognized by the World Heritage List. They join a host of other locations affiliated to ancient world religions, such as the Vatican and the Old City of Jerusalem.

The two shrines, one near the recognized heritage site of Old Acre on Israel's northern coast and the other on Mount Carmel in Haifa, are the burial grounds of Baha'u'llah and the Bab, believed to be messengers of God and the founders of the Baha'i Faith.

The sites are renowned for their exquisite gardens and modern architecture. In addition to a following of five million Baha'i pilgrims, they are frequented by thousands of tourists every year.

"We welcome the UNESCO recognition, which highlights the importance of the holy places of a religion that in 150 years has gone from a small group found only in the Middle East to a worldwide community with followers in virtually every country," said Albert Lincoln, secretary-general of the Baha'i International Community.

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