Artists Quarter Safed

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Artist Quarter Tzfat
Artist Quarter Tzfat
קרית האומנים צפת
Kiry’yat Ha’Ooma-nim
Other Names
Artists Colony, Old Arab Quarter
Safed neighborhood where artists’ galleries are interspersed among residential homes..

The Artist Quarter neighborhood or Safed is near the Old City. Originally the Arab Quarter of the city it was taken over by the Jews after the War of Independence.


[edit] Historical Overview

The Crusaders established their rule twice in Tzfat, once in 1099 and again in 1240. During the second reign, Jews and Arabs resettled the area. Each established its own neighborhood on the mountain slope below the Citadel -- the Jews to the north and the Arabs to the south. The two communities maintained their separate neighborhoods until the Safed War of Independence in 1948 when the Arabs fled in the face of Jewish victory.

In keeping with the Abandoned Areas Ordinance of 1948, the abandoned neighborhood came under the auspices of the Israeli Lands Authority Administration which sold properties to new immigrants arriving from Europe and North Africa. In addition, many artists, including some of Israel’s most celebrated artists, acquired properties and established their galleries in the quarter.

An Artists Quarter Association was created and well-known Israeli artists including David Gilboa, Moshe Kastel, Menachem Shemy, Moshe Raviv, Mordehai Levanon, Itzhak Frenkel, Ziona Tagar and Shimshon Holtzman set up a thriving Artists community which attracted tourists and art-lovers from around the world. The Artists Quarter became Israel’s “Bohemian Quarter” and its nightclubs attracted Israelis who drove to Tzfat from Tel Aviv to enjoy the ambiance.

[edit] Winds of Change

By the 1980s, the older artists were no longer opening their galleries, their children were not interested in maintaining the properties and young Israeli artists preferred to remain in the Tel Aviv/Jerusalem area. At the same time, new immigrants were arriving from English-speaking countries and were interested in buying and renovating the homes in the quaint old section of the town.

Slowly, the Artists Quarter took on a more religious, family character. Some of these new families also included artists however and they were interested in establishing art studios to showcase their own art.

[edit] The Artists Quarter Neighborhood

The Artists Quarter neighborhood today is a mixed neighborhood. There are still many artists who live, work and exhibit in the quarter, though most of the galleries are concentrated in and around the General Exhibition Hall of the Artists Quarter. Some young families have opened galleries next to their homes and their children play while their parents create their art and exhibit their works.

[edit] Religious Influences

Many of the new artists are observant Jews and they infuse their artwork with religious expression. In addition, several of the artists study Kabbalah and they incorporate Kabbalistic symbolism in their art. Some of these artists encourage groups of tourists to visit their galleries and hear lectures about Kabbalah and its connection to their art.

[edit] Real Estate

The demand for housing in the Artists Quarter continues to grow yearly. Together with the Old Jewish Quarter, its real estate is some of the highest-priced in northern Israel. Many residents and developers are building and adding additions onto existing homes and any empty plots are being developed. There are no problems with “tabu” properties in the Artists Quarter, as there are in the Old Jewish Quarter. Land deeds in the Artist Quarter date no further back than 1948 and real estate purchases are straightforward.

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