World Centre buildings

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Aerial view of the complex of Bahá’í administrative buildings on Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel.

The Bahá’í World Centre buildings are buildings that are part of the World Centre in Israel. The Bahá’í World Centre buildings include both the Bahá’í holy places used for pilgrimage and the international administrative bodies of the Bahá’í Faith; they comprise more than 20 different administrative offices, pilgrim buildings, libraries, archives, historical residences, and shrines. These structures are all set amidst more than 30 different gardens or individual terraces.

The buildings themselves are located in Haifa, ‘Akká, and Bahjí, Israel. The location of the World Centre buildings has its roots to Bahá’u’lláh's imprisonment in Acre, which is near Haifa, by the Ottoman Empire during the Ottoman Empire's rule over Palestine, now Israel.


Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel, and it is a seaport, located below and on Mount Carmel, and lies on the Mediterranean coast. In 1891 Bahá’u’lláh himself designated Mount Carmel as the location for the Shrine of the Báb. Later, Bahá’u’lláh in the Tablet of Carmel wrote that Mount Carmel would be the physical location of the World Centre.

The Shrine of the Báb[edit]

Main article: Shrine of the Báb
Shrine of the Báb.

The Shrine of the Báb is the location where the Báb's remains have been laid to rest. The location was designated by Bahá’u’lláh himself in 1891 while he was camped, with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, across from Mount Carmel. The shrine was built by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1909. Many years later, the superstructure was completed by Shoghi Effendi, and finally dedicated in 1953.[1]

The architect was William Sutherland Maxwell, a Canadian Bahá’í who was a Beaux-Arts architect and the father-in-law of Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi provided overall guidance, including in the use of Western and Eastern styles, but left the artistic details to Maxwell. Maxwell's design of the Rose Baveno granite colonnade, Oriental-style Chiampo stone arches, and golden dome is meant to harmonize Eastern and Western proportions and style. Some remaining aspects of the dome's structural engineering were designed by Professor H. Neumann of Haifa's Technion University.[1]

After Maxwell passed away in 1952, Leroy Ioas, an American Bahá’í who had been closely associated with the construction of the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois helped Shoghi Effendi in the construction process. Ioas employed his administrative skills and practical mind to supervise the building of the drum and dome, a task done without the availability of sophisticated machinery.[1]

Temporary Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá[edit]

The Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the location where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's remains have been temporarily laid to rest. It is found in one of the rooms of the Shrine of the Báb; the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will be relocated to a new structure to be built in the future.

The Arc buildings[edit]

Main article: The Arc

The Arc composes a number of administrative buildings as revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in the Tablet of Carmel, built in the shape of an ark which include, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the Seat of the International Teaching Centre, the International Bahá’í Archives and the Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts. The fifth building, the International Bahá’í Library has yet to be built.

Seat of the Universal House of Justice[edit]

Seat of The Universal House of Justice.

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice is the building located in Haifa, Israel where the Universal House of Justice, the centre of the Bahá’í covenant, sits. It is a large building where the House of Justice can meet dignitaries and pilgrims, and attend to other business. It also houses a few other offices of the Bahá’í World Centre.

Located at the apex of The Arc and built with sixty Corinthian columns around it to mirror the design of the International Archives. The architect was Hossein Amanat and it was completed in 1982 during the second stage of building on the Arc, to be occupied in 1983.

During a Bahá’í pilgrimage the members of the Universal House of Justice greet each of the pilgrims in turn before they are shown around main areas of the building.

Seat of the International Teaching Centre[edit]

The Seat of the International Teaching Centre.

Built in the third stage of the building of the Arc, the Seat of the International Teaching Centre is where the International Teaching Centre is based. The architect was Hossein Amanat and it was completed in 2001.

Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts[edit]

The Centre for the Study of the Texts

Built in the third stage of the building of the Arc, the Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts is the base of the scholars and translators who study and translate the Bahá’í texts to assist the Universal House of Justice. The architect was Hossein Amanat and it was completed in 1999.

International Archives[edit]

The International Archives.

The International Archives is the first building to be built on the Arc and holds many of the most sacred items within the Bahá’í Faith, but most importantly is built for the viewing of the paintings and drawings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, along with a single photograph of Bahá’u’lláh. Although some of these items are available on the internet today, most Bahá’ís prefer to see these items only in a reverent atmosphere, during the pilgrimage.

Shoghi Effendi choose the Parthenon as the basis for the design possibly due to the apparent enduring beauty even after thousands of years. The capitals of the fifty columns were Ionic rather than the Doric Order. It was finished in 1957 however Shoghi Effendi never lived to furnish the interior. This was left to his wife Rúhíyyih Khanum.

Previously the rear three rooms of the Shrine of the Báb and then the building beside the Monument Gardens now called the Department of Holy Places were temporary Archives buildings.

International Bahá’í Library[edit]

The International Bahá’í Library instructed by Shoghi Effendi is as of yet unbuilt, although it holds an extensive collection of Bahá’í literature.

Monument Gardens[edit]

The grave of Bahíyyih Khánum within the Monument Gardens.
The graves of Navváb and Mirzá Mihdí within the Monument Gardens.
The grave of Munírih Khánum within the Monument Gardens.

The Monument Gardens within the Bahá’í World Centre are a set of gardens which hold the graves of some of the members of the Bahá’í holy family:

The Terraces[edit]

One of the upper terraces of the Shrine of the Báb.
Main article: Terraces

The Terraces are garden terraces that form nine above and nine below the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel within Haifa, Israel.

Nine concentric circles thus provide the main geometry of the eighteen terraces. Just as the identification of a circle presupposes a centre, so the terraces have been conceived as generated from the Shrine of the Báb. The eighteen terraces plus the one terrace of the Shrine of the Báb make nineteen terraces total. Nineteen is a significant number within both the Bahá’í and Bábí religions.

The Visitors Centre[edit]

The Terraces Visitors Centre.

The Visitors Centre is an underground structure on the 11th terrace behind the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel within Haifa, Israel. It can be found on street level under the Hatzionut Bridge which the terraces pass over.

The House of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá[edit]

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was the leader of the Bahá’í Faith, designed and built a house in Haifa on 7 Haparsim (Persian) Street after his father Bahá’u’lláh died. It was completed in 1908, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá moved to the house in August 1910. It became his official residence. After his travels to the West, it became the place for the reception of pilgrims to the World Centre.

Pilgrim Houses[edit]

Main article: Pilgrim House

Pilgrim Houses signify buildings where pilgrims are (or were) greeted and housed during pilgrimage to the Bahá’í holy places. There have been numerous buildings within Haifa, Israel dedicated to this throughout the last century.

Original Western Pilgrim House[edit]

The original Western Pilgrim House, located at 4 Haparsim (Persian) Street in Haifa, Israel, was used as a Pilgrim House for members of the Bahá’í Faith of Western origin, who had come for pilgrimage during the early years of the 20th century, before it was replaced by the new Western Pilgrim House on 10 Haparsim Street.

The house is currently part of the Bahá’í World Centre. While it was originally rented to serve as a Pilgrim House, the house was then bought by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. After being replaced by new Western Pilgrim House, the site was then used by members of the Bahá’í holy family. It left Bahá’í hands shortly before being re-bought by the Universal House of Justice.

Second Western Pilgrim House[edit]

10 Haparsim Street.

The second Western Pilgrim House, often referred to as "the old western Pilgrim House", located at 10 Haparsim (Persian) Street in Haifa, Israel, was used as a Pilgrim House for members of the Bahá’í Faith who had come for pilgrimage during the first half of the 20th century. It is currently part of the World Centre and used by the Bahá’í International Community Secretariat and related offices.

The house was originally paid for by William Harry Randall, a wealthy American Bahá’í, who felt the facilities of the previous Western Pilgrim House at 4 Haparsim were inadequate. Its construction was started under the instruction of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but was only completed during the time that Shoghi Effendi was the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. Although it served originally as the Pilgrim House for western Bahá’ís, it has been used for other purposes more recently:

Eastern Pilgrim House[edit]

Haifa Pilgrim House.

The Eastern Pilgrim House or the "Haifa Pilgrim House" is a Pilgrim House for Bahá’ís when they go on pilgrimage. The house was built after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá interred the remains of the Báb on Mount Carmel. The construction of this stone building was supervised Mírzá Ja’far Rahmání of 'Ishqábád, who also paid all the expenses. It is known as the "Eastern Pilgrim House", as for decades it housed the Persian pilgrims. After 1951, when the Western Pilgrim House at 10 Haparsim Street became the seat of the International Bahá’í Council, it became the Pilgrim House for all pilgrims.

Haifa Pilgrim Reception Centre[edit]

Haifa Pilgrim Reception Centre.

The Pilgrim Reception Centre or the "Haifa Pilgrim Reception Centre" is the newest Pilgrim Reception Centre for pilgrimage to sites near the World Centre. It is comprised of two conjoined buildings, of a historic medical clinic, that have recently been remodeled and opened in October 2000. The building can serve up to 500 people on pilgrimage. [1]

Resting place of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khanum[edit]

Resting place of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khanum.

The Resting place of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khanum is situated within Haifa, Israel as part of the Bahá’í World Centre. Originally bought to make sure that the area around the House of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was not built up, and used as a garden, it was selected as the burial ground for Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khanum after she died in 2000.

75 Hatzionut Avenue[edit]

75 Hatzionut Avenue is a building within Haifa which is part of the Bahá’í World Centre that is not particularly celebrated but has been an integral part of the centre for many years. Amongst other things it has been used for:

  • A building where Shoghi Effendi oversaw the development of the Bahá’í gardens.
  • An architects office for the building of the Arc.
  • As the International Archives building before the permanent building was finished in 1957.

It is currently used as the Bahá’í "Department of Holy Places".

Other buildings[edit]

Obelisk marking the position of the future Bahá’í House of Worship (Mashriqu'l-Adhkár), Mount Carmel; Haifa, Israel.

Other buildings in the Haifa region include the Pilgrim Reception Centre, and the site of the future Mashriqu'l-Adhkár.

‘Akká area[edit]

Bahá’u’lláh, and his family, was exiled to the prison city of ‘Akká by the Ottoman Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz. Bahá’u’lláh arrived in ‘Akká on August 31, 1868, and lived the rest of his life in the ‘Akká area as a prisoner. His prison conditions were eased in June 1877 and while still a prisoner, he moved to Mazra'ih at that time. The Bahá’í buildings and property in ‘Akká were rented or bought during this period of time.

House of `Abbúd[edit]

House of `Abbúd.

The House of `Abbúd refers actually to two houses:

  • The westerly house owned originally by `Abbúd hiself. It was the first property to be rented after Bahá’u’lláh's release from confinement into house arrest.
  • The easterly house which was owned by `Údí Khammár originally until he let it to the Bahá’í holy family after a few years. `Údí Khammár also owned the Mansion of Bahjí which the Bahá’ís later acquired.

The house provided a home for Bahá’u’lláh's first wife Navváb and her family. It was in this building that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was written.

House of `Abdu'lláh Páshá[edit]

House of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá

The House of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá is one of the properties the Bahá’í holy family used in the ‘Akká area. It was acquired by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to fit the growing family and also provide space to welcome pilgrims who had started to arrive.

The name derives from the ‘Akká governor Ibrahim Pasha who owned the house in the early decades of the 19th century.

The first western pilgrims were welcomed here on December 10 1898.

The Garden of Ridván[edit]

Garden of Ridván, ‘Akká
See also: Garden of Riḍván, Baghdad

The Garden of Ridván (lit. garden of paradise) is a holy place situated just outside ‘Akká within modern Israel. Originally known as the 'garden of Na‘mayn', it was rented by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for Bahá’u’lláh where he enjoyed spending the later part of his life, after years in a desolute prison cell. Although it shares the same name it does not have the same significance of the Garden of Ridván, Baghdad and no connection to the festival of Riḍván.

Prison cell of Bahá’u’lláh[edit]

Prison Cell of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Akká

The prison cell in which Bahá’u’lláh lived between 1868 and 1870 has now become a pilgrimage location. Its restoration was completed in June 2004.[2]


Bahjí is a place near ‘Akká, where Bahá’u’lláh spent his final years of life. While he was still formally a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire, his prison conditions were eased, and in 1879 he used the Mansion of Bahjí as his summer home.

Although the Mansion of Bahjí is relatively isolated with only a small pilgrim house and the shrine within several hundred metres, there used to be a complex of several buildings mostly used by the extended Holy family. During the time of Shoghi Effendi, these buildings (and the land around them which are used as gardens) were bought up or traded for land near the Sea of Galilee. Most of these buildings were flattened as they had been used by covenant breakers. The tiles off the roofs were used to make the pathways and the rest of the buildings were used to make a large windbreak to the south west of the Mansion.

Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh[edit]

The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.

Located in Bahjí the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh is the most holy place for Bahá’ís — their Qiblih. It contains the remains of Bahá’u’lláh and is near the spot where he died in the Mansion of Bahjí.

The Mansion of Bahjí[edit]

Main article: Mansion of Bahjí
The Mansion of Bahjí

The Mansion of Bahjí is a term used to describe the summer house where Bahá’u’lláh died in 1892. It was built in 1870 over an earlier, smaller building by `Udi Khammar, a wealthy merchant from ‘Akká who was also the original owner of the House of `Abbúd. It remained in his family's hands until 1879, when an epidemic caused the inhabitants to flee. The mansion was subsequently rented to the Bahá’í holy family for a very small amount of money. `Udi Khammar's tomb is still within the main Mansion compound, on the northwest corner of the wall.

It is now a pilgrimage site.

Bahjí visitors centre[edit]

Bahjí Pilgrim Centre.

Located near Bahjí and the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, it is the pilgrim reception and visitors centre for the most holy place for Bahá’ís.


A side view of Mazra'ih. Bahá’u’lláh's quarters can be seen at the top where the walls are plastered.

Located four miles north of ‘Akká in Mazra'a, Bahá’u’lláh used this country house during the summers from June 1877 until 1879, before moving to a larger summer house within Bahjí. It left Bahá’í hands for several decades and was slightly restructured with an annex added to the front. This meant that a staircase, previously on the outside is now within the house's walls.

It originally belonged to `Abdu'lláh Páshá, and is located four miles north of ‘Akká.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Golden anniversary of the Queen of Carmel". Bahá’í World News Service.. 2003-10-12. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  • Taherzadeh, Adib (1976). The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 1. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0853982708. 
  • Taherzadeh, Adib (1984). The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 3. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0853981442. 
  • Taherzadeh, Adib (1987). The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 4. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0853982708. 
  • Smith, Peter (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá’í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1851681841. 

External links[edit]

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