Introducing Tsfat (Safed)
Huddled on top of Israel’s third-highest peak, Tsfat (Safed, Zefad, Tzfat or Sfat) is an evocative mountain town with a rich heritage of Jewish mysticism, a rambling artists’ quarter and magical views. The oblique labyrinth of cobbled streets is lined with medieval synagogues and crumbling stone houses punctuated by turquoise doorways and heavy hamsas (a hand-shaped amulet featuring the evil eye).
It is an idyllic and devout place with a slightly bohemian atmosphere, where Hasidic Jews and New Age spiritualists blend Kabbalistic tradition and messianic enthusiasm.
In an age where Kabbalah has been made popular by the rich and famous, religious tourists are now big business in Tsfat, coming from all over the world to learn the Torah, visit the graves of the great mystics such as Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Ari) who are buried in the town’s haunting cemetery, and indulge in an energising look into their own souls.
For travellers, Tsfat provides an ethereal place to get lost for a day or two.