Photo by Itamar Grinberg / Israeli Ministry of Tourism
An Artists' City in Northern IsraelThe multifaceted mountaintop town of Safed, located almost 3,000 feet above sea level in Upper Galilee, boasts magnificent views of the Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee, and Lebanon. The city first became prominent when the Crusaders built a fortress on the site. Jews first arrived in considerable numbers after expulsion from Spain in 1492, and Safed became a spiritual center when Kabbalah flourished under rabbis Yitzhak Luria and Joseph Caro. Safed has a thriving artists' quarter, with studios and galleries filling the narrow alleys, and it hosts an annual klezmer festival. It also maintains a strong religious presence as one of Israel's four holiest cities.
AFAR Local Expert
about 5 years ago
The Mystical, Kabbala City, Safed
The city of Safed is located on a hilltop in the Galilee, overlooking mount Meron, a mountain where the mystical texts of the Kabbalah were written. When you walk along the narrow cobblestone streets of the old part of the city, visit the various galleries and the handcrafts stores, specialized in Kabbalah jewelry and souvenirs, watch the Orthodox Jews and follow the Kabbalah people who visit the Abuhav Synagogue, a 15th-century synagogue, named after 15th-century Spanish rabbi and kabbalist, Isaac Abuhav. A lot of Jews who flee the Spanish Inquisition ended in Safed and brought with them lots of skills that were not familiar in the area. For example, the first printing press in the Middle East was established in Safed in 1563. Recently, the Kabbala leader Rabi Berg was buried in Safed and Kabbala believers visit his grave.