Two Baha’i shrines are the latest Israeli sites to join UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization announced Tuesday that it was adding Baha’i shrines in Haifa and Acre to its protected list.
The sites, which include 26 buildings, “are inscribed for the testimony they provide to the Bahai’s’ strong tradition of pilgrimage and for their profound meaning for the faith,” UNESCO said in a statement.
The Baha’i faith, a 19th-century offshoot of Islam that preaches the unity of all major religions, considers Haifa the future capital of the world.
The movement’s gilded shrine dominates the Carmel Mountain, being the premier landmark for Israel’s biggest port. The two shrines are known for the formal gardens that surround them. In addition to Baha’i pilgrims, they attract hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists every year.
UNESCO has listed several Israeli sites since 2001, including Masada and the Bauhaus quarter of Tel Aviv.
“The Baha’i community is particularly grateful to the government of Israel for putting forward this nomination,” said Albert Lincoln, the secretary-general of the Baha’i International Community.