46 Facts About Safed


Safed, is a city in the Northern District of Israel.

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Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Josephus.

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Safed attained local prominence under the Crusaders, who built a large fortress there in 1168.

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Safed's conditions improved considerably in the late 19th century, with its municipal council founded along with a number of banks, though the city's jurisdiction was limited to the Upper Galilee.

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Safed has a large Haredi community and remains a center for Jewish religious studies.

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Legend has it that Safed was founded by a son of Noah after the Great Flood.

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Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus.

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Safed is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period.

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Safed was the seat of a castellany by at least 1165, when its castellan was Fulk, constable of Tiberias.

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The castle of Safed was purchased from Fulk by King Amalric of Jerusalem in 1168.

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Safed subsequently reinforced the castle and transferred it to the Templars in the same year.

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Safed was captured by the Ayyubids led by Sultan Saladin in 1188 after a month-long siege, following the Battle of Hattin in 1187.

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Safed noted that two Muslims guarded and maintained the cave tomb of a rabbi, Hanina ben Horqano, in Safed.

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The iqta of Safed was taken from the family of Sa'd al-Din by the Ayyubid emir of Damascus, al-Mu'azzam Isa, in 1217.

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Two years later, during the Crusader siege of Damietta, al-Mu'azzam Isa had the Safed castle demolished to prevent its capture and reuse by potential future Crusaders.

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Safed likely preserved it because of the strategic value stemming from its location on a high mountain and its isolation from other Crusader fortresses.

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Safed commissioned numerous building works in the town of Safed, including caravanserais, markets and baths, and converted the town's church into a mosque.

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The extant parts of the work consisted of ten folios largely devoted to Safed's distinguishing qualities, its dependent villages, agriculture, trade and geography, with no information about its history.

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Safed's account reveals the city's dominant features were its citadel, the Red Mosque and its towering position over the surrounding landscape.

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Safed noted Safed lacked "regular urban planning", madrasas, ribats and defensive walls, and that its houses were clustered in disarray and its streets were not distinguishable from its squares.

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Safed attributed the city's shortcomings to the dearth of generous patrons.

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Safed's inhabitants sent the keys of the town citadel to Sultan Selim I after he captured Damascus.

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Rumors in 1517 that Selim was slain by the Mamluks precipitated a revolt against the newly-appointed Ottoman governor by the townspeople of Safed, which resulted in wide-scale killings, many of which targeted the city's Jews, who were viewed as sympathizers of the Ottomans.

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Safed became the capital of the Safed Sanjak, roughly corresponding with Mamlakat Safad but excluding most of the Jezreel Valley and the area of Atlit, part of the larger province of Damascus Eyalet.

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At least in the 16th century, Safed was the only kasaba in the sanjak and in 1555 was divided into nineteen mahallas, seven Muslim and twelve Jewish.

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The Muslim quarters were Sawawin, located west of the fortress; Khandaq ; Ghazzawiyah, which had likely been settled by Gazans; Jami' al-Ahmar, located south of the fortress and named for the local mosque; al-Akrad, which dated to the Middle Ages and continued to exist through the 19th century, and whose inhabitants were mostly Kurds; al-Wata, the southernmost quarter of Safed and situated below the city; and al-Suq, named after the market or mosque located within the quarter.

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Safed became a center of Kabbalah during the 16th century.

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Safed formed close relations with the city's Sunni Muslim ulema, particularly the mufti Ahmad al-Khalidi of the Hanafi fiqh, who became his practical court historian.

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The concomitant rise of Acre under Zahir and his successors Jazzar Pasha, Sulayman Pasha al-Adil and Abdullah Pasha contributed to the political decline of Safed, which became a subdistrict center with limited local influence, belonging to the Acre Sanjak.

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Safed was raided by Druze in 1833 at the approach of Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian governor of the Levant.

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The bulk of trade in Safed, which was traditionally dominated by the city's Jews, largely passed to its Muslim merchants during the late 19th century, particularly trade with the local villagers; Muslim traders offered higher credit to the peasants and were able to obtain government assistance for debt repayments.

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The wealth of Safed's Muslims increased and a number of the city's leading Muslim families made an opportunity from the Ottoman Land Code of 1858 to purchase extensive tracts around Safed.

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In 1888 the Acre Sanjak, including the Safed Kaza, became part of the new province of Beirut Vilayet, an administrative state of affairs which persisted until the Empire's fall in 1918.

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The Sunni courts of Safed arbitrated over cases in Akbara, Ein al-Zeitun and as far away as Mejdel Islim.

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Until the late 19th century the Muslims of Safed maintained strong social and cultural connections with Damascus.

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Masterman noted that the Muslims of Safed were conservative, "active and hardy", who "dress[ed] well and move[d] about more than the people from the region of southern Palestine".

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Safed's population reached over 15,000 in 1879,8,000 of whom were Muslims and 7,000 Jews.

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Safed remained a mixed city during the British Mandate for Palestine and ethnic tensions between Jews and Arabs rose during the 1920s.

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Safed was included in the part of Palestine recommended to be included in the proposed Jewish state under the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.

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The first phase of the Palmach plan to capture Safed, was to secure a corridor through the mountains by capturing the Arab village of Biriyya.

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The fall of Safed was a blow to Arab morale throughout the region.

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Safed is 40 kilometers east of Acre and 20 kilometers north of Tiberias.

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Safed has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, rainy and occasionally snowy winters.

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In October 2011, Israel's fifth medical school opened in Safed, housed in a renovated historic building in the centre of town that was once a branch of Hadassah Hospital.

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Livnot U'Lehibanot program in Safed provides an open, non-denominational atmosphere for young Jewish adults that combines volunteering, hiking and study with exploring Jewish heritage.

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Nowadays, Safed has been hailed as the klezmer capital of the world, hosting an annual Klezmer Festival that attracts top musicians from around the globe.

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