Underground Tunnels in Safed – Visitors Guide


Underground Tunnels in Safed

The underground tunnels in Safed are part of a 16th-century complex. The complex was buried for about one hundred years, following the 1837 earthquake. Let’s begin our visit!

Map

The underground tunnels are located on Alkabets 17 Street in the old city of Safed.

Here is a map of the area with marked POI.

And here is the touristic map of Safed.

Map of Safed
Map of Safed

Notes:

  • You can enlarge the map by clicking on it.
  • The underground tunnels are marked as #36 on the map above.

You can easily spot the entrance either by the big sign or the Lahuhe original – Yemenite food bar, located in front of the entrance.

Underground Tunnels, Safed
The entrance sign to underground tunnels

And here is the site plan of the underground tunnels:

Underground Tunnels site plan
Underground Tunnels – site plan

Directions

If you are interested in directions and parking, then check out my guide to Safed.

Opening Hours

The opening hours are:
Sunday – Thursday: 10:00 – 17:00
Friday: 10:00 – 13:00

Notes:

  • These are opening hours of the information desk, which is located on-site. I guess the opening hours of the underground tunnels are the same.
  • This site is managed by Livnot U’Lehibanot (livnot.org).

Contact Information

Phone: 1800-800-821, email: reservations@livnot.org

Entrance Fee

During our visit, the entrance fee was 10 NIS per person. Also, by purchasing the tickets, we received discounts on activities at “Beit HaKahal” later on.

At the Underground Tunnels

The underground tunnels are part of 16th-century rooms and cisterns. Here is the relevant quote from the official site:

In later periods, Safed died out.

The most known reason is the earthquake that struck Safed in 1837. It wrecked the city. Also, events of the First World War led to years of poverty, starvation, disease, and deprivation. All these and other factors were a significant cause for some of the city’s magnificent buildings buried deep in the earth. Parts of the newer Old City were built on top of these buried buildings.

The tunnels you are visiting are the result of the exposure of ancient rooms and water cisterns dating back to the 16th century, which was covered underground for about 100 years. The tunnels connect to the ‘Beit Hakahal’ area – the remains of an ancient neighborhood from the 16th century.

Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.

Underground Tunnels in Safed
Underground Tunnels in Safed

As you can see from the underground tunnels site plan, there are eleven POI, and six are in the first compound.

Underground Tunnels in Safed
Underground Tunnels in Safed

Ancient water cistern

We will not go into details about all POI, but I do want to mention the ancient water cistern. And that is because as we walked there, we saw running water. I find it amazing that something was built more than 400 years ago and was not maintained since, and nonetheless, it is still fully functioning.

Today, a national company provides us with water for our faucets, but in the past, every family needed to store their own rainwater.

For this purpose, the roofs of the houses were built on a slope so that the rainwater would spill into the gutters and from there along the Safed alleys, built on the slope of a mountain. The water drainage ended in reservoirs of water cisterns built next to almost every building and was used by the residents for drinking and bathing.

During periods of drought, the residents would haul water from the pools of the Amud river, which passes through the wadi at the foot of Safed

Underground Tunnels in Safed
Running water at Underground Tunnels in Safed
Underground Tunnels in Safed

We spent a little more than half an hour in the underground tunnels and, in the end, ended in a small alley in front of the entrance to ‘Beit Hakahal.’

‘Beit Hakahal’

The second compound of underground tunnels is ‘Beit Hakahal.’ It is still undergoing restoration, and they expect to finish the renovation in 2023.

Note: ‘Beit Hakahal’ is marked as #37 on the map at the beginning of this post.

‘Beit Hakahal’
‘Beit Hakahal’

For almost 80 years, the structure in front of you was completely covered with earth, stones, and building debris that created a kind of hill in the heart of the Old City.

For about a decade, many volunteers, Jewish youth from Israel and abroad, as part of the organization’s educational volunteer programs, dug and uncovered some authentic ancient structures, an authentic remnant of buildings in the Sephardic neighborhood of Safed.

This magical place served as a lively community center during the golden age of Safed in the 16th century.

‘Beit Hakahal’
‘Beit Hakahal’

We saw several activities at ‘Beit Hakahal.’ One of them was a pottery workshop.

For twenty NIS, you could create a small jar or a cup. And here is my daughter with the guide working.

Pottery workshop
Pottery workshop

There also was a Pita bread preparation workshop. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the entrance ticket to underground tunnels provided a discount for this activity (5 NIS instead of 10 NIS).

Pita in the oven
Pita in the oven

That was the end of the underground tunnels experience, but not the end of our trip to Safed. You can find a full guide to the city at Safed.

Summary

The underground tunnels are a lovely attraction. And due to its small size and the workshops in ‘Beit Hakahal,’ it is suitable for a family visit. It is one of the fewer attractions in Safed that my daughter enjoyed.

Have you been to underground tunnels in Safed? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

For additional points of interest nearby check out Safed.

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Email me at hi@israel-in-photos.com, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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