With a skyline dominated by the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa ranks as Israel’s third-largest city and can trace its history back more than 3,000 years. It also boasts Israel’s only underground metro, which makes up in elevation change what it lacks in other metrics.
Opened in 1959, the Carmelit climbs from the Mediterranean shore to the top of Mount Carmel. It was intended to provide quick and easy transit between the commercial districts along Haifa’s waterfront and the modern residential center of the city, which was situated atop the heights of the mountain for which the line is named. Serving six stations, from Paris Square at sea level to Gan Ha’em at the mountain’s peak, the Carmelit ascends 274 meters (899 feet) over the course of its 1.8 kilometer (1.1 mile) run.
Since the time of its completion, much of Haifa’s population has shifted to other parts of the city, leaving the Carmelit lightly used in the present day. It was closed for extensive renovation from 1986 to 1992, and again to repair a faulty cable from March to July of 2015. Nevertheless, its two two-car trains continue to make the eight-minute journey up and down the mountain every day, sharing a single track with only a brief parallel section to the allow the counterbalanced trams to pass by one another.