If the idea of getting lost in the clouds of the Holy Land appeals to you, then you might consider a sojourn to Safed, considered one of Israel’s most spiritual cities.
Located in Israel’s Northern District, nestled among the Galilee’s dense pine woodlands, the city of Safed overlooks the Sea of Galilee and Tiberias like an ancient sentinel. The highest city in Israel at an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet, Safed feels somewhat reminiscent of an Alpine village, with its warm summers and cold, snowy winters.
The heart of Safed’s charm surely revolves around its Old City. Settled by Spanish Jews in 1492 after they were banished from Spain, Safed’s biblical roots are believed to have started with one of Noah’s sons, who founded the city after the Great Flood.
Over the centuries, Safed attracted Jewish scholars and spiritualists to form a thriving community that continues today.
Venture down the old city’s maze of cobblestone alleys and stone stairways, and you will encounter an intersection of culture, both old and new. Find ancient synagogues, shops, cafes, kitschy art galleries and more—all in one place.
There are a number of synagogues to explore, including the Caro Synagogue, where there is a Torah scroll that is approximately 400 years old. Be sure to take particular note of the turquoise-colored doors as you stroll through the city streets—they are designed to be a reminder of heaven.
Visit the Safed Artists Quarter, where many of Israel’s best and most prolific artists trace their beginnings. Travel further upward towards the peak of the city to see the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) monument that commemorates the 1948 War of Independence. A battle took place on Safed’s citadel itself, where the monument was built.
If you are still in the mood for a hike, check out the piney woods and cool flowing mountain streams which surround the city. Take the Yam L’Yam pass through the forests on the outskirts of Safed all the way to the breathtaking Sea of Galilee.
You can also visit the Jewish National Fund’s Tree Planting Center just outside of Safed. There, you can plant a sapling as a way to connect to the Holy Land, and to invest in Israel’s future.