North of Tiberias is Zefat City, also known as Safed or Safad, an artists’ colony of less than 30,000 souls. Considered to be one of the four holy cities of Israel, it is an important center for kabbalistic and rabbinical studies. In this city, even graves are objects of religious worship.
Zefat’s higher altitude – in fact, it is the highest city in Israel – offers not only cool and refreshing weather, but also a much more relaxing atmosphere than other parts of the country. The elevation also makes for awesome views of green mountains and the snow-capped Mt. Hermon. The weather here is ideal for growing plants, so flowering gardens abound in backyards all over the city.
As an artist colony, private galleries abound, so tourists are advised to visit during daytime when the displays are open. When they close for the night, there isn’t much to do except hang out in the restaurants and perpetual coffee houses of the country. Otherwise, the city is an interesting place to study Juddaic art. The predominantly Orthodox Jewish population produces handicrafts of ceramics, diamonds, gold and silver crafted in the ways of ancient times. Sculptors, painters and artisans work in their studios in ancient rebuilt houses, and show their paintings and artifacts on their display windows seen in alleyways.
The city has an interesting history because of the way the founders were driven out from the city by the Arabs and how it was later retaken by the vastly out-numbered Israeli army in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. One of the must-see places of Israel, a visit here will surely offer a unique perspective of Israeli culture.