Safed, a Kabbalistic city in the mountains of northern Israel
Zefat or Safed is a very religious city in the Upper Galilee, nestled in the mountains of northern Israel. Safed has Hasidim, real Shabbat, Kabbalah, lots of blue, as well as an art gallery and artists’ quarter. It’s as if time has stood still here. Let’s stroll through the amazing streets of this town and take a closer look at another face of Israel.
Safed, or Safed, in Israel
Safed is a very special city, and you can see it at a glance. In Jerusalem, you can find Hasidim in their usual white shirts, black cloaks, and dashingly curled paisas. In Safed, even the women are dressed as if it were the blessed 16th century, the heyday of a small town with blue doors and railings. The predominance of blue and blue in the decoration of the streets, facades and decor elements is a distinctive feature of Safed that speaks silently of its noble origins.
A Walking Street in Safed
History of Safed
When Jews who fled Spanish Toledo settled here in the 16th century, they did not come to an empty place. The city was founded by crusaders who built a fortress in the 12th century. Its ruins still stand outside the city limits. And born city became the fourth holy city in Israel, after Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. Although the settlement existed in the Second Temple period, and here took refuge as Zealot rebels during the Roman persecutions.
An alleyway with stairs
Flowers and a painting
How to get to Safed
And it just so happened that it was in Safed that I spent the Sabbath. There were only two buses going north on Friday, at 9:00 and 11:00 am. The journey from Jerusalem to Safed takes four hours. Buses to Safed leave from the central bus station in Jaffa, but one should take into account that one should not look for them in the terminal building itself, but walk from the main entrance towards the streetcar tracks and find the bus stops there. The buses start at another terminal in the north of the city and go through Jaffa and don’t stop at the terminal. The ticket costs 36 shekels.
You will take Highway 1, which connects Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and then you will turn north until you cross another highway in the town of Megido. In Megido the bus stops for about twenty minutes and you can buy food or water. But most importantly, don’t forget to look around. For next to Megido is the hill of Tel Megiddo. It is better known by another name, Har Megido, or Armageddon. Yes, this is where the Isreel Plain begins at the foot of Armageddon, where many battles have taken place and where the last is yet to take place. At speed you will pass by Mount Tabor, where Christ was transfigured. And then the road will change dramatically. You will have to drive along a serpentine road, wandering between the mountains. The closer you get to Safed, the more winding the road becomes.
Hotels in Safed – where to stay
My Safed Inn was located on one of the mountains of the glorious city of Safed, Kanaan. And, despite the inclement weather that had begun, we managed to catch one of the last local buses (4.5 shekels) and make it to the hotel gate. Good woman, Natalie, hostess, was extremely surprised that we have no car and repeated several times – I wrote to you, on Shabbat, without a car here is nothing to do! However, we managed without a car, walking all over Safed.
Я от всей души рекомендую этот отель. Здесь отличные и вкусные завтраки, очень чисто и приятно. А какие виды открываются с горы Канаан! Забронировать >>
Here are other good hotels in Safed
Safed on Shabbat
But let’s start at the beginning. The Sabbath in Israel begins at sunset on Friday (since Jews count the beginning of the day at sunset, not, as we are used to, at sunrise). Therefore it is necessary to begin the preparation for Shabbat in advance – to prepare food for all next day, to finish all affairs and to leave superfluous thoughts about vital fuss behind. To make all this feasible, in Israel from two or three hours on Friday stores are closed, public transport stops and even planes do not fly. Shabbat. Everyone is resting.
If suddenly you find yourself during Sabbath in Israel, too, then rush to buy food for the day ahead. Do not underestimate this advice, approach the issue very carefully – determine exactly how much food you need for the whole day and maybe until Sunday morning, because Saturday night you may not want to go into town.
And so it is worth noting that the Sabbath in Safed is indeed the Sabbath. In Tel Aviv or Haifa, you might not notice it coming, especially if you’re in the tourist areas on the waterfront. But in Safed, it’s very strict. Nothing works. Literally. For, Shabbat shalom!
On the way to the city center.
Blue dominates the color scheme of the city
The valley between the hills.
In the morning a deserted city appeared before me. Cozy hill houses wrapped in the soft clutches of pines and palm trees, soft sunshine, and the famous blue doors of the town of Safed. The historic part of the town, with its narrow streets, belongs to the Kabbalists. On the Sabbath afternoon there is singing in all the synagogues, cheerful, wind-up songs can be heard from everywhere. Each house is famous for something – Rabbi Yitzhak lived here, and Rabbi Moshe lived here. Jews cherish the memory of their teachers and do not like strangers meddling in their affairs. Being well-mannered and modest forces them to say hello to you and, lowering their eyes, walk away. More than once you will hear “Shalom” from the locals, respond in kind and don’t be intrusive. Madonna, who became infatuated with Kaballa in the late ’90s, honored the town with a visit. It is believed that Safed is the world center of Kabbalah.
The race “Who is fastest”.
Only spiritual matters are allowed on Shabbat.
The sights of Safed
Safed is one big attraction in itself. You can just wander through its streets and enjoy it. But of course, there are some neighborhoods that stand out. These are the artists’ quarter as well as the Monument of the War of Independence.
The Artists Quarter in Safed
The artists’ quarter is located on a hillside with stairs that descend steeply. Here, antiquity and mysticism meet modernity. Sculptures can be seen right on the street, each art gallery is decorated differently.
Sculpture in the street
A contemporary art corner
Take off, take off, fly
Original piece of art
Lattice in the shape of a Star of David
Entrance gate as a work of art
Currently uninhabited part of the house
Flowers in tubs at the entrance
Front door, front wall
Monument to the War of Independence
During the 20th century War of Independence, the Jews defeated the Arabs. In the heart of the city stands a monument dedicated to those who fell during the war. The story of the course of the war is told in two languages (Hebrew and English) over the loudspeaker, even during the Sabbath. From this small hill there is a splendid panoramic view of the whole city and the neighboring hills of the Upper Galilee. The view is peaceful and absorbing!
The slope is cultivated and maintained
Trees on the hill
Trees guard the fortress
Hills to the horizon
What else to see in northern Israel
Walking in Safed is a must – leisurely and enjoyable. But to get to Mount Hermon, Golan Heights, Nimrod Fortress, the Banias Cave, Gamla and the Israeli Stonehenge (Gilgal Refaim) you need a car. Of course you should also stop in Tiberias to see the Sea of Galilee. So the choice is yours.
Our recommendation: How to book a hotel cheaper
The first thing to do is to find and compare the prices of hotels with discounts on different booking sites. In order not to waste time, we use a handy search engine – RoomGuru. It immediately looks for the best deals on the Internet and shows the best of them. It remains only to choose the appropriate and go on vacation!
Cheap air tickets to Israel
Посмотреть цены и купить дешевые авиабилеты в Израиль лучше всего здесь >> *
* airlines often organize sales, don’t miss the opportunity to buy a ticket!
Safed is a Kabbalah city in the mountains of northern Israel.
Safed is a very original city of Israel. Here reigns a peaceful pastoral atmosphere, but at the same time, this place is full of bright colors of the different palettes – spiritual, cultural, archaeological, religious, artistic.
Safed – a very unique city in Israel. Here reigns a peaceful pastoral atmosphere, but at the same time, this place is full of bright colors of the different palettes – spiritual, cultural, archaeological, religious, artistic. Not without reason this city with a rich history, which rises above the entire Upper Galilee and is one of the four holy cities of Israel (along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias), has become the main center of the Kabbalah, and is of great interest to pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
- The first mention in the chronicles dates back to 73 AD;
- According to ancient legend, the city of Safed was founded by Noah’s son;
- Population – about 33,300 people (more than 85% Jewish);
- the main confession – Judaism;
- The city of Safed is located 900 meters above sea level (with a stunning view of Lake Kinerit to the southwest, the snow-capped peak of Mount Hebron to the north, and the Mediterranean coast to the west);
- Safed appears in many literary sources from ancient times (in the Book of Judges, in the Jerusalem Talmud, in the annals of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus);
- the city on the mountain has always attracted the attention of enemy invaders, as it occupied an important strategic location (it was conquered at different times by the Knights Templars, the troops of Sheikh Salah ad-Din, the army of Mamluk Sultan Baybas, the Ottoman Empire, the Egyptian Sultan Ibrahim Pasha, etc.);
- “The struggle of the Jewish people for their rights and freedom runs through the history of Safed: along with the constant conflicts with the Arabs, there was a gradual influx of expelled Jews from Spain and Portugal (Sephardim) and later Hasidim from Central Europe (this is what led to the formation and active development of the Kabbalah);
- Safed is a very religious city, so when coming here be respectful of the local traditions, so as not to incur the wrath of the orthodox, of which there are many (please refrain from taking pictures and videos in the holy places, do not try to enter the synagogue or other holy sites while wearing open clothes, do not smoke in the streets and try not to behave too provocatively);
- in the streets of the city there are often blue facades, gates, door and window openings, painted in sky-blue color – it is connected with the faith (it is believed that blue color is able to protect from the evil eye and everything evil);
- in Hebrew the name of the city of Safed means “to observe”, “observation point”, which is associated with the geographical location of the settlement).
Safed – attractions
Every city has special places that become its silent symbols. In Safed, too, there is a place that counts as number 1 in the list of must-see places for any tourist – the Artists’ Quarter. Here you can take the most impressive and colorful photos in Safed.
It all began in the post-war years with a simple request to the city hall by four local artists. They asked permission to settle in the abandoned houses in one of the city streets and to set up their workshops there. After a while, an entire quarter was formed where not only painters, but also sculptors, jewelers and various craftsmen settled. Prices in the artists’ quarter are not small, focused on foreign tourists, but no one cancels the good old tradition to haggle a little. Moreover, even if you do not dare to buy anything, the pleasure of walking through the workshops and souvenir shops will get huge, as if you’ve been in a huge museum.
Other attractions in Safed include:
There is something else that is associated with Safed in Israel. It is klezmer music. As multifaceted and deep as this amazing city. You can hear it just walking through the streets of Safed, but you can get a real sense of the strength and character of this Jewish folk music genre during the International Kleizmer Music Festival, which happens every summer in Safed (usually in August) and is the largest event of its kind.
Where to stay?
Safed welcomes tourists all year round, among whom there are various representatives: distinguished spiritual guests, rich travelers from Europe, middle class people, and young students who want to dilute the vacation with a vivid experience. Therefore, the city has options for accommodations in different price ranges.
Do you want to stay in a comfortable place of premium class, then we advise:
There is a wide variety of mid-range hotels and apartments. There are more than 10 of them in Safed. The most popular among tourists:
There are also many budget options for overnight stays in Safed with very good conditions. Among them:
In these selections were included only those hotels, guest houses and apartments that have received high ratings from guests and have a lot of positive feedback from tourists.
Given the large influx of tourists to Safed from various countries, it is obvious that the culinary infrastructure of the city is also taken care of. There are restaurants and cafes of various kinds:
- HaAri 8 (Middle Eastern and Israeli cuisine);
- Elements Cafe (delicious vegetarian food);
- Bat Yaar (steakhouse);
- Tree of Life (another cozy cafe for vegetarians);
- Art Coffee Mikael (café-museum with an unusual interior);
- Cafe Monitin (Mediterranean cuisine);
- Ronen at Azamara (they make the best traditional Yemeni dish called lachuch – pancakes with a delicious vegetable filling);
- Seudat Gan Eden (kosher dairy restaurant with an outdoor terrace);
- Geffen Courtyard (a wine bar designed as a cafe-gallery);
- Artisan Bakery (Italian restaurant with a large selection of desserts).
Also in Safed there are French, Lebanese, Chinese and African cuisine, many pizzerias and coffee shops.
Safed – the weather
The mild mountain climate makes Safed even more attractive to tourists. Many come here just to breathe the crystal clear air at the top of the mountain, to recharge their health and vigor.
In the mountains of Israel come and those who can not stand the heat. Summer in Safed is warm, the temperature reaches its peak in August. But it’s not at all Eilat +40 ° C, but only +25 ° C. Winter is also very comfortable in terms of temperature. The average temperature of the coldest month of the year, January, +8.5 ° C.
In summer, as in all of Israel, there is almost no precipitation in Safed. The rainy season is traditionally the winter months, especially January.
Through Safed passes two major regional highways: № 90, which runs from north to south, and № 89, stretching from west to east. So get here by car from any part of Israel is not difficult.
From major resorts and smaller nearby towns can be reached by bus. The way from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will take about 3.5 hours and will cost 40-50 shekels. From Haifa you get to Safed in a couple of hours, from Tiberias it will take you about the same time but with a connection.