Photo by Itamar Grinberg / Israeli Ministry of Tourism
An Artists' City in Northern Israel
The 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.