Safed is not only one of Israel’s holiest cities, it is also the highest city in the Holy Land. Set in the dense pine forests of the Upper Galilee, overlooking Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, Safed is a delicious blend of ancient grandeur and modern-day resort. For thousands of years, the ancient city of Safed was conquered and reconquered – always changing hands. Said to have been founded by one of Noah’s sons after the Great Flood, the city was inhabited by the local Semetic populations throughout the years. Josephus mentions Safed as Sepph, a fortified Jewish town in the Upper Galilee. Today, after years of conflict ranging from the Crusaders to the Mamlukes to the British, Safed survives – as pretty, vibrant and mystical as ever! Safed’s Old City The Safed that is today’s tourist hotspot is the Old City, originating from the Spanish Jews who settled the town after the Expulsion in 1492. From the old buildings to the ethnic atmosphere, Safed offers not just a jump back to the past but also a beautiful present. These days, the locals of Safed are often involved in Kabbala (a Jewish esoteric school of thought) and Kabbala becomes an integral part of society. The old city streets and houses are steeped in Kabbalistic influence – the doors and windows painted blue in mystical symbolism to confuse evil spirits. Along with the devout Kabbalists in the Old City, artists of varied approach have settled in Safed, creating the Artists’ Quarter.