Alpine Safed or Safed (Tzfat, Safed) is a city of cabalists and mystics, one of the four holy cities in Israel and the youngest of them. Safed is located on the very top of the mountain, at an altitude of about 900 m above sea level, in the Upper Galilee. Religious shrines annually attract pilgrims here, and unusual architecture – tourists. The city was built up at different times by people from different countries, so the heritage of different national cultures has been preserved here. Safed is famous for its galleries, artists, musicians and workshops of local artisans, as well as very beautiful nature: here you can simultaneously observe the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. Check 3rjewelry for other cities and countries as well as geography in Middle East.
Walking around the city, you will notice that many doorways are painted blue. This is no coincidence: it is believed that blue protects against the evil eye.
According to legend, Safed was founded by the son of the Old Testament Noah.
How to get there
Two major regional highways pass through Safed: No. 90 (from north to south) and No. 89 (from west to east). Therefore, it is very easy to get here by car or by bus from any major Israeli city:
- bus number 361 runs from Haifa to Safed, travel time is about 2 hours, fare is about 40 ILS;
- from Tiberias you will have to go with one change;
- from Tel Aviv there is only one bus number 846 per day, in the evening. Travel time – 3.5 hours, ticket price – 50 ILS;
- from the Central Station in Jerusalem, bus number 982 will take you to Safed in 3.5 hours, the fare is 40 ILS.
How to travel in the city
The central part of Safed is small, there are mostly old quarters, and there is no particular need to use public transport. The entire city center is located on a hill, in its eastern part there is a bus stop, in the western, exactly opposite, is Jerusalem Street. On it you can find a travel agency and several restaurants, in addition, it is here that the oldest buildings in the city are located.
Weather in Safed
While the rest of Israel is suffocating heat, in Safed there is a pleasant mountain coolness and clean air. In summer it is about +25 °C, the weather is dry and sunny, but in winter it is often rainy, especially in January, but it is rarely colder than +9 °C.
There are about 50 hotels in Safed. As elsewhere in the world, the cost of living depends on the number of stars and proximity to city attractions. The most expensive quarter in Safed is the Old City, many hotels here are located in historic buildings with arched ceilings and old exposed stonework.
A 4-5 * hotel will cost about 230 USD per day for a double room. A good “three-ruble note” in the center, within walking distance of all the attractions will cost from 150 USD. You can stay in guest houses and hostels for 60 USD, but it is better to count on 100 USD per day for a double room.
Shopping and stores
There are no shopping centers and popular stores in Safed – for this you need to go to larger cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Here it is worth shopping in the Artists’ Quarter: in the galleries you can buy paintings and handicrafts by local artists and artisans. There is a factory in Safed that produces wax candles – you can buy them at any souvenir shop – and a cheese factory that makes high-quality cheeses. Both are local attractions.
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Cuisine and restaurants of Safed
The first thing to try in Safed is local cheese, mostly hard varieties. On the territory of the city there are several private cheese factories, some of which are over 100 years old, and they cook according to old recipes.
- Meiri Cheese Dairy is the first in the city, it has existed since 1840 and has been owned by the same family all this time. Here you can taste Safed cheese made from a mixture of cow, goat and sheep milk or other varieties, such as “bulgarit” (similar to feta cheese). A visit to the cheese factory with a tour and tasting will cost about 15 USD per person, it has a shop and a small restaurant.
- Another popular cheese factory with a history – “Kadosh” – is owned by Moroccans, and they make an unusual yellow hard cheese “Kashkaval”.
There are no problems with catering in Safed. There are both Israeli fast food and coffee houses and restaurants of various national cuisines, including rare ones, such as African. The restaurant HaAri 8 serves delicious Middle Eastern and Israeli cuisine, cafe Monitin is worth going for seafood delicacies, Bat Yaar is a good steakhouse. There are also vegetarian restaurants here: Elements Cafe and Tree of Life; an interesting kosher dairy restaurant is Seudat Gan Eden. One of the best wine bars is Geffen Courtyard.
Entertainment and attractions in Safed
The main attraction of the city, where all tourists go first of all, is the Artists’ Quarter. He appeared here after the war, when four craftsmen turned to the local authorities with a request to allow them to set up workshops in abandoned houses. Over time, jewelers, sculptors, and other craftsmen joined these artists, and soon a whole creative quarter was formed on the site of dilapidated buildings. This place is very colorful, there are many workshops and artisan shops. Prices are quite high, as they are designed primarily for tourists, but if you bargain, you can agree on a completely acceptable option. It’s worth going here even if you’re not going to buy anything, as it’s essentially a large free open-air museum.
Safed is known throughout Israel for its unusual klezmer music. Here you can hear it from everywhere, especially in the city center, but you can feel the depth and color of this folklore at the klezmer music festival, which takes place here every year in August.
In Safed, many ancient synagogues have been preserved, each of which has its own history. The most famous is the Ashkenazi synagogue Ari, built in the 16th century. Sephardim. It is believed that Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, who created one of the directions in Kabbalah, came to pray at this place on the eve of Shabbat. The second synagogue is the synagogue of Rabbi Yosef Karo, also built in the 16th century, known as the Torah Study House. According to legend, under this holy place there is a basement in which an angel-mentor passed on the secrets of Kabbalah to the rabbi.
The ruins of the Crusader fortress of Safet, which dates back to the 12th century, have also been preserved in the city. Initially, there was a single tower here, which for many years served as a fortification for the Knights Templar. Picturesque here are not only the ruins themselves, but also the view of the city, which opens from the Fortress Hill.
Also noteworthy are the ancient cemetery “Beit Kvarot Attik”, the Shem ve Ever Cave, the Museum of Printing Art, the Puppet Museum and the Red Mosque.