The nineteenth-century Carmelite church and monastery of Stella Maris is perched at the western edge of Mount Carmel, atop the bayside city of Haifa, high over the Mediterranean. Its name, which means “star of the sea,” comes not from the beautiful view, but from an ancient epithet for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The Carmelites have lived in the area since medieval times, and are known for their warm welcome to people of all faiths. Their church has a beautifully painted dome and a magnificent altar over a cave Elijah is said to have inhabited. The European atmosphere here is augmented by a monument in the garden to Napoleon’s soldiers, who took shelter here after the battle for nearby Acre in 1799. A small museum on the premises displays interesting antiquities. And just across the street is one of Haifa’s major attractions – a cable-car that takes visitors on a fascinating ride down and up the mountain.