Wadi Nisnas offers a cultural and culinary experience revealed in the neighborhood narrow alleys
A tour in Wadi Nisnas neighborhood will reveal to you old stone homes, narrow alleys and one particularly colorful market, and it is most recommended not to miss it when visiting the city.
The taste of old times
Wadi Nisnas neighborhood connects, ever since it was set up in the course of the 19th century, between the Hadar neighborhood and Haifa’s downtown. The neighborhood was built as an Arab workers’ neighborhood, turned during the British Mandate period into an active and thriving urban quarter until it was conquered by the “Haganah” forces in 1948. While most of its Arab residents left Haifa at the end of the War of Independence, about 3000 of them chose to stay in the city, some of them in Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. Also currently, most of the neighborhood residents are Arabs, who maintained and preserved the neighborhoods’ Arab identity, including the neighborhood stone buildings, the narrow alleys, the colorful market and more.
A sensory evoking experience
Strolling through the alleys of Wadi Nisnas, and all the more so through the market alleys, evokes quite a few of our senses. The ancient form of construction with Limestone, the arched balconies, the yards planted with vines and pomegranates take us back to the past, creating a rural atmosphere in the heart of the city. These picturesque sights are easily endeared to the eye, being just the first sense that comes alive during a tour in the Wadi. For the sense of smell walking through the Wadi streets constitutes a most special experience. The scent of coffee just being roasted, the spices, familiar more or less, the fresh vegetables and fruits not to be found in any supermarket, and of course the scent of cooked food dishes are carried through the Wadi streets and it is hard to remain indifferent to them.
With the scent comes the appetite, and there is no doubt that you will find very tasty the numerous delicatessens that can be found in the various restaurants and counters of Wadi Nisnas. Old restaurants offer dishes from the traditional cuisine that you have never tasted. In the market the best two Falafel counters in the country are located one opposite the other, so if there is a long line in front of one you don’t have to go far to reach the other. The candy store located at the end of the market is a great way to end the visit to the neighborhood with a sweet taste of more, which will accompany you until your next visit.
Religious and Ethnic Co-Existence
Wadi Nisnas neighborhood hosts annually the “Holiday of Holidays” Festival, close to the beginning of the New Year. The festival unites the celebrations of the Jewish Holiday of Hannukah and Christmas, and in some years also the Moslem Ramadan Holiday (in years when it overlaps or falls near the other Holidays) thus symbolizing and celebrating the religious and ethnic co-existence, constituting an inseparable part of Haifa. During the Festival many events take place among them concerts and out-door performances, Christmas Parade and more. Various art exhibitions are displayed in the Wadi alleys as well as in Beit HaGefen (Jewish-Arab Cultural-Social Center) and additional adjacent galleries. Furthermore, unique tours in the neighborhood are held such as a tour with the author Sami Michael, who takes us through the alleys he so beautifully describes in his book “Hatzozra Ba’Wadi” (Trumpet in the Wadi), inspired by Wadi Nisnas, a tour with Emil Habibi, and others.
How to get there?
It is very easy to reach Wadi Nisnas from the Carmelit Ha’Nevi’im or Solel Boneh stations. From Ha’Nevi’im station you turn to Shabtai Levy Street where you will find a stairs leading you to the Wadi streets. If you depart from Solel Boneh Station, descending to the Wadi is through Huri Street.
An additional and delightful way to arrive at the Wadi is through the Stairs Track, which starts at the top of Mount Carmel and descends to the Wadi alleys. On the way you may enjoy going down through the streets of Haifa, which will reveal to you the spectacular view seen from them, extending some days up to Rosh HaNikra. If you chose this track, you will be able to return to the Carmel via the Carmelit, a short ride to Gan Ha’em Station.