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Safed (Hebrew: צְפַת Tsfat, Ashkenazi: Tzfas, Biblical: Ṣǝp̄aṯ; Arabic: صفد, Ṣafad) is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of 900 metres (2,953 ft), Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and in Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters.
Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus. The Jerusalem Talmud mentions it as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period. In the 12th century CE Safed was a fortified city in the Crusaders’ Kingdom of Jerusalem, known to them as Saphet. The Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the city in 1266 and appointed a governor to take charge of the fortress. The city also became the administrative centre of Mamlakat Safad, a province in Mamluk Syria whose jurisdiction included the Galilee and the lands up to Jenin. Under the Ottomans, Safed functioned as the capital of the Safad Sanjak, which encompassed much of the Galilee and extended to the Mediterranean coast. Since the 16th century, Safed has been considered one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias; since that time the city has remained a centre of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. Rabbi Isaac Luria introduced interest in the Kabbalah to the city in the 16th century.
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