When visiting Haifa, most people will explore the Jewish and Arab areas of the city (everyone goes to the Bahai gardens…) its part of what makes Haifa special, the diversity, and co-existence. But what makes Haifa even more special for a tourist, it is the proximity to some of the Druze villages of Israel. It is an excellent opportunity to visit a community and people you probably have never met before.
Who are the Druze people?
No, not Druid, if you were confusing, you can read about them on this page.
The village of Isfiya
On the map.
It is the second largest Druze village in Israel with a population of just 1000 people. At the village, there are remains of ancient Jewish village and synagogue from the Byzantine time. The modern village was established 400 years ago. In the Arab riots of 1929, the people of Isfiya were under constant attacks and asked for help from the Haganah (the Jewish underground), since then the village developed very good relations with the Jews of the area. Many of the village people serve in the armed forces.
On the map.
The biggest Druze village in Israel, a population of around 17,000 people. Located right next to Isfiya. yea, the government tried to unite the villages into one big town, the locals didn’t like it. The name “Dalia” in Arabic means grapes, and it is named after the grapes which are being grown in the area for centuries.
Points of interest:
- The Market of Dalia– The place is known for its big market which has all the Middle Eastern dishes you heard of with a touch of the Druze style.
On Shabbat the market is big and people from all over the area come to buy here.
- Abu-Ibrahim Prophet– Abu Ibrahim was one of the founders of the Druze belief.At this location, there is a cave which was used by Abu-Ibrahim as a hiding location while he was persecuted by the Muslims. Today the place is a religious site and in the compound, there are 5 Hilwe’s (The Druze prayer house).
Note: These villages are not a tourist destination, there are no “places to see”, they are not among “the most beautiful ones in Israel (although in the spring the scenery can be very nice). In order to get the full experience of these villages, the responsibility is on YOU to make it happen. You came here to see the people remember?
Talk to the people, present yourself, the best will be to sit and eat somewhere and talk with the owners, talk to the shop owners on the side of the main road, wondering between the alleys. Just by passing in those villages you won’t get to know the Druze people.
Keren-Carmel Monastery (Muchraka)
Not far from the village lay the monastery of Keren-Karmel (horn of the Karmel) on top of the Carmel ridge. the monastery belongs to ‘The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel’ which are based in Haifa. The Carmelites see Elija as a role model and believe this is the place where Elija gained his victory over the Ba’al prophets. The name in Arabic is ‘Muchraka’ which means the burning place, as the biblical story involves gods fire.