Safed, or Tsfat in Hebrew, is the city of Jewish art and mysticism, and it is easy to see how its picturesque charm inspires people even today.
Safed is located on top of a mountain in the Galilee, 3000 feet above sea level. Perhaps because of its proximity to the heavens, it became a popular destination for people seeking solitude and spiritual inspiration back in the 16th century and the Kabbalist movement was born here. You can explore the Kabbalists’ synagogues and cemeteries, and also tap into the creative energy of Kabbalah-inspired artists like Avraham Lowenthal. For the truly intrepid soul-seekers, take a dip in the freezing cold waters of the mikvah spring used by the holy Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the Ari, whose Kabbalistic teachings are taught today throughout the world.
Safed has become a center for Jewish art, attracting artists from all over the world to the Artist Colony in the Old City. It’s a wonderful place to explore, with picturesque alleyways and innovative art galleries in its old stone buildings. You may even fall in love with a painting that you want to take home as a memento of your visit.
The Crusaders built a Citadel in Safed and it was occupied by waves of invaders over the centuries, including the Ottomans, until it was captured by Israeli forces in 1948. One way to explore the history and culture of this unique city is to visit the Safed Puzzle Room, which is like an Escape Room and suitable as an exciting interactive family activity.
In the winter, you will be looking for indoor activities in Safed, but in the summer its streets come alive with artists opening their galleries and tourists visiting from other parts of Israel to enjoy the cooler air. In August Safed hosts an international Festival of Klezmer Music. Musicians play on every corner, and every courtyard and building is packed with music-lovers enjoying concerts all day and late into the night. Accommodation is hard to find during this week, but people travel from far away to enjoy this highlight of the Israeli musical calendar.
To visit Safed and explore its artistic and spiritual highlights, talk to Shatour Israel about including this fascinating city in your next tour of Israel.