As the bright sun dimmed on Tuesday over Haifas Mount Carmel, hundreds of white lights were illuminated along the mountains cascading western cliff throwing tiny shadows over the majestic terraced gardens of the Bahai faith.
Three thousand Bahais descended on this coastal city from as far afoot as Uganda, Samoa and Australia to celebrate the grand opening of the massive gardens consecrating the burial site of the faith's founder.
The gardens, tucked into the steep slopes of the impressive mountain, are designed in nine concentric circles around the shrine where Bahai prophet Siyyid Ali Muhammad - known to Bahais as "The Bab" - is buried.
Funded by donations from members of the five-million strong Bahai population worldwide, the gardens were officially opened to the public on Tuesday evening in a light-filled ceremony at the foot of Mount Carmel featuring premier performances of musical compositions by Bahai composers.
Hundreds of spectators and police officers watched and applauded the proceedings from the rooftops of apartment buildings surrounding the gardens, which are covered by numerous drought-resistant plants in an effort to save water, a scarce commodity in this arid region.
The gardens, which sit on a 225m steep slope overlooking Haifa Bay, are the culmination of a 10-year, US$250-million project.