Although it runs along a single boulevard, "The Colony" packs in history (with explanatory placards), interesting architecture, great restaurants, and wonderful spots for people-watching. Ben Gurion Boulevard was the heart of a late-19th-century colony established by the German Templer religious reform movement. Along either side are robust two-story chiseled limestone houses with red-tile roofs. Many bear German names, dates from the 1800s, biblical inscriptions on the
lintels, and old wooden shutters framing narrow windows.
Neglected for years, the German Colony is now one of the city's loveliest (and flattest) strolls. It's best to start your exploration around Yaffo (Jaffa) Street so that you're walking toward the stunning Baha'i Gardens. Along the way you can have a meal or a cup of coffee, explore the shops in the City Centre Mall, and learn about the history of the Templers. Any time of day is pleasant, but evening, when the cafés and restaurants are brimming with people, is best.
The Templers' colony in Haifa was one of seven in the Holy Land. The early settlers formed a self-sufficient community; by 1883 they had built nearly 100 houses and filled them with as many families. Industrious workers, they introduced the horse-drawn wagon—unknown before their arrival—to Haifa. They also built with their own funds a pilgrimage road from Haifa to Nazareth. The Germans' labors gave rise to modern workshops and warehouses, and it was under their influence that Haifa began to resemble a modern city, with well-laid-out streets, gardens, and attractive homes.
Haifa's importance to Germany was highlighted in 1898, when Kaiser Wilhelm II sailed into the bay, on the first official visit to the Holy Land by a German emperor in more than 600 years. In the 1930s, many Templers began identifying with German nationalism and the Nazi party, and during World War II the British deported them as nationals of an enemy country.