A Kabbalist City
Safed has long been the destination for discovering one’s spiritual self. If Jerusalem, with its many synagogues and yeshivas, has long been known as a great center of Jewish learning, Safed has earned the reputation for being the epicenter of Jewish mysticism. It is here, on this verdant hillside in the north of Israel that Kabbalah – an esoteric collection of writings and thoughts concerned with the infinite and the finite, the mortal and immortal, with man and the universe - flourished. By the 16th century, many Sephardic rabbis and sages escaping Spain and the Inquisition settled in Safed, helping the city grow and making it a destination for Jews all over the area who wished to receive a blessing, obtain advice, or simply honor the renowned rabbis who lived and studied there.
Jewish Mysticism, Poetry and Literature
Strategically located on top of a mountain, Safed was historically considered an important observation post. During the time of the Crusaders rule, Safed was a battleground between Muslim Arabs and Christian Crusaders. The continuous fighting made for difficult living conditions for the Jewish community in the city and it was not until the 16th century, when the Turks overtook the city, that Safed's Jewish community could finally live, study and pray in peace.
The Ottoman rule over Palestine was the beginning of the golden age of Safed. Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition were greeted with open arms and allowed to settle within the city walls. Religious scholars and Hebrew poets dominated Safed, giving the city the unique, bohemian character that is still present today.
The Old City of Safed
Modern day Safed is a mix of ancient architecture and contemporary urban design, contributing to the ambiance of the city. Safed’s Old City maintains its traditional, religious facade, yet the surrounding neighborhoods bustle with the trappings of everyday life.
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