Safed Travel Blog› entry 11 of 16 › view all entries
After spending the night in the Ha'on kibbutz we went early in the morning to Safed, the home of the Kabbalah. Safed is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an altitude of 900 metres Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Since the sixteenth century, Safed has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. From that time until today, the city has been a center of Jewish mysticism and the original home of the Kabbalah. The city was found by the Jews in the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, Safed was a fortified city in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem known as Saphet. The crusader knights built a castle there. In 1266 the Mamluk sultan Baybars wiped out the Christian Templar population and turned it into a Muslim town called Safad or Safat.
Safed rose to fame in the 16th century as a center of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. A Hebrew printing press was established in Safed in 1577 by Eliezer Ashkenazi and his son Isaac. Many prominent rabbis found their way to Safed, among them the kabbalists Isaac Luria (Arizal) and Moshe Kordovero, Joseph Caro and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, composer of the Sabbath hymn Lecha Dodi. The influx of Sephardi Jews made Safed a global center for Jewish learning and a regional center for trade throughout 15th and 16th centuries and even now as many people visit the city for the learn of the Kaballah.