Tzfat: a guide to the mystical city

From stunning synagogues to endless Israeli art galleries, the ‘City of Kabbalah’ has something new to offer every visit

Tzfat
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By Time Out Israel Writers |
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Out of the green mountains and lush winding roads of the Upper Galilee, emerges
a city steeped in the history and mysticism of the Jewish people. Tzfat, one of
Judaism’s four Holy Cities, is well known as the center of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) in Israel, where around each turn of the cobbled streets lies another mystical shop welcoming you in for a taste of 16th century spirituality. This Holy City on a hill is also home to ancient sites with panoramic views, hearty homemade yemenite food, and vibrant art galleries. Whether you come for the history or hiking, of all the things to do in Israel this magical city will undoubtedly leave an impression on your mind–and maybe even on your soul.

The Old City of Tzfat

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Tzfat Cemetery
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Attractions, Cemeteries

Tzfat Cemetery

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The graves in the ancient Tzfat Cemetery can be traced as far back as the late BCE era. Buried here are many great scholars and Kabbalistic rabbis including Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair, Hosea the Prophet, Rabbi Isaac Luria, Rabbi Yosef Caro, Rabbi Moshe Alsheich, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz, and more. Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the cemetery in order to pray and ask for divine intervention. The cemetery is located directly below the Old Jewish Quarter of Tzfat, approachable by two paths descending from the Old City. The Hekdesh Tzfat, under the authority of the Tzfat Rabbinical Council, cares for the cemetery and can help guests locate specific gravesites.

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Soul and Art Gallery
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Art, Galleries

Soul and Art Gallery

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Soul and Art Gallery is located in the Artist’s Colony of Tzfat, which has become a center for Kabbalah and creativity. This beautiful gallery is located in a stone structure that dates back over 200 years. Featuring some of the best Jewish and Kabbalah inspired art from Israel and abroad, Soul and Art Gallery is a source of inspiration for many artists, and a popular spot for visitors to Tzfat. The gallery also features a Kosher Mediterranean restaurant-come for the artistic inspiration, stay for a tasty bite!

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Defenders' Square
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Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Defenders' Square

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Kikar HaMeginim, or Defenders’ Square, is the central plaza of Tzfat’s Old City, and a popular gathering place for residents and visitors alike. Set in the center of the four main lanes of upper Tzfat, three restaurants are located here, in addition to a stand for drinks and ice-cream. This sunny spot is also a popular place for socializing, playing music, and impromptu activities. Defender’s Square served as the headquarters for forces during Tzfat’s liberation, giving the spot historical significance. On holidays, Defender’s Square is known for it’s joyous, citywide celebrations, with many of the local synagogues spilling into the square following services.

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Lahuhe Original Yemenite
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Restaurants

Lahuhe Original Yemenite

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Chef Ronen set up his street food stall, Lahuhe Original Yemenite, in Tzfat’s Old City aiming to bring “spiritual soul food” to tourists and locals alike. Offering Yemenite delicacies such as lachuchs, malawach, and jachnun, this eatery is a must-visit while touring the city’s art galleries. Chef Ronen, who enjoys dispensing Jewish knowledge and lore to diners, adds to the authentic experience of food and music at this stall. You’ll never know how delicious cheese, vegetables, and herbs served on a lightly fried flat bread can taste until you visit this charming street food stand.

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Hotels

Artists' Colony Inn Zefat

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Set in a fully renovated stone villa, Artists' Colony offers stylish suites with free Wi-Fi. Located in the ancient mountain city of Safed, it features a garden and panoramic terrace. Air-conditioned suites here include a satellite flat-screen TV, seating area and garden views. The private bathroom comes with a bathrobe, slippers and free toiletries. Some suites have a private patio. The property is set in the Artist's Colony area of Safed, and the immediate area has plenty of galleries, restaurants and cafés. A full Israeli breakfast including cheeses, breads, eggs and salad is served daily. There is a common lobby where drinks, snacks and an espresso machine are available. Artists’ Colony Inn Zefat is a 5-minute walk from the International Centre for Tzfat Kabbalah. The town of Rosh Pina is 11 km away, and the Sea of Galilee is 25 minutes by car.

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Hotels

Palacio Domain - Luxurious Boutique Hotel

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This elegant 12th-century property is in the heart of the Artists' Colony of Safed.Palacio Domain includes spacious lounges, a welcoming lobby and a massage room for total relaxation.Suites are air conditioned and decorated in bright colours with interesting works of art on the walls. Each one features a comfortable seating area and a flat-screen TV with cable channels and DVD player.Palacio Domain - Luxurious Boutique Hotel is near the main art galleries and ancient synagogues of Safed's Old City. It is a great starting place for exploring the Galilee area, including Mount Hermon, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee.

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