Safed’s Citadel is the highest point of Israel’s highest city, Safed, some near 1,000 meters (3,000+ feet) above sea level, and a historically important site. Overseeing the Sea of Galilee, the mountains of the Upper Galilee including Mt. Meron, and portions of the Golan, the Citadel commands an amazing vantage point for military purposes. But in peacetime it served an important use as well – the early Jewish kingdoms used the mountaintop as a place to signal other far-reaching villages and cities updates on the announcing of the new month. Today it hosts a early war memorial and a park.
The Safed Citadel
IDF Monument at Safed Citadel
Throughout the ages, Safed has been conquered and re-conquered by the early Canaanite Kingdoms, the early Jewish Kingdoms, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Mamlukes and in recent history, the British. In 1948 the fledgling Jewish army captured the Citadel from the local Arab forces as they used it, in its towering location, to bomb the Jewish Quarter down below. The battle that won the Citadel was a miraculous one fought in mud and thorns and so Israel established it as a national memorial and dedication, building a spire monument and a park around it in 1951.
Crusader Ruins at Safed Citadel
Lately, excavations have been done and sections of the ancient Crusader fortress are now uncovered. The uncovered parts are available for exploration and picnics can be held as well both within the ruins and throughout the wooded park. The view from the Citadel, and the monument in particular, is astounding in beauty and clarity. The layout of the land can be seen from the mountaintop and when looking down, one can see the Safed Artists’ Quarter, famed for its art exhibits and galleries.
The Citadel and park are open year round but be sure to bring a camera, binoculars and wind-protection!
By: Shem Tov Sasson. A Contributing Journalist for Tourist Israel, Shem Tov lives in the small Israeli city of Ma’alot. His personal blog about his experiences and adventures in the Holy Land can be found at Israel’s Good Name.