Israel is home to a plethora of cultures, and the Druze are one of the most interesting of them all. Let us take you on a journey through the Druze villages of northern Israel and get a taste of exceptional cuisine, history and culture
The Israeli melting pot serves you a hearty dish of people from all nations and religions. One of the most fascinating of these are the Druze, a unique religious-ethnic group originally descendant from Islam. The majority of Druze settlements in Israel are located in the North of the country, and are rich with culture, history and delicious cuisine. These are some of our recommendations for Druze villages well worth your visit:
1. Daliyat al-Karmel
Daliyat al-Karmel, on Mount Carmel, is the largest of the Druze settlements in Israel. It is famous for its bustling market filled with locally grown produce, homemade delicacies and traditional ware – carpets, dishes, furniture and much more. The local galleries offer beautiful handmade crafts and artwork that are well worth a look. Don’t skip the El Muhraqa, the Discalced Carmelite Monastery, which dates back to the 1840s.
Isfiya, right next to Daliyat al-Karmel, was established by Lebanese Druze in the 17th century. In modern times, the village has become a bustling tourist attraction. Visitors are urged to take a tour guide in order to fully enjoy the hidden secrets of the village, but independent travelers can wander on their own and discover ancient buildings, try their hands at making oil candles and take in all the aromas and flavors at the local bazaar.
Several families have opened up their homes to travelers and will happily share their history, culture and accommodations with willing tourists.
3. Beit Jann
One of the highest inhibited locations in Israel, at the peak of Mount Meron, Beit Jann is a lovely Druze village that has rightfully gained the title of Israel’s Zimmer Empire. Dozens of guesthouses take advantage of the gorgeous, lush green mountains. Visitors love to stroll through the narrow winding alleyways with their quaint market stalls and natural produce.
Visit ancient Canaanite cemeteries, bubbling brooks and natural fountains, and treat your skin to some all-natural, organic cosmetics made locally. If you visit in April you can catch the wild peonies in bloom.
Welcome to Julis, a spiritual cornerstone of Druze faith situated 15 miles from the Northern border. You can start your visit at the Druze Center House, a museum for the preservation of Druze heritage, and view Druze crafts, clothing, cultural artifacts and a fascinating section devoted to traditional medicine and spiritual traditions.
Many prophets are buried in the village, and their tombs are sites of pilgrimage for believers from all over the country. If you choose to visit in November you would enjoy the annual Olive Festival.
Hurfeish has exactly the right blend of primal Galilean views and ancient tradition. Fields of green cover from the breathtaking viewpoint at Mount Zvul where the Druze prophet Sabalan is buried. His tomb and shrine are open for visitors, and are a rewarding end to a lovely hike up from the village. Hurfeish offers a wonderful attraction – the women’s lace art center, where local women and visitors gather on a weekly basis to study and participate in traditional lace and embroidery work.
Picturesque Peki’in is a multicultural playground, a web of Jewish, Druze and Christian history. Visit the award-winning olive oil press and traditional beehives where you can get some hands on experience in making these delicacies.
Peki’in is also internationally known for the all-natural soap and cosmetics brand “Gamila Secret”. Don’t miss out on the visitor center where you can learn all about the production process and enjoy products at reduced prices
Built on the ruins of a late Bronze Period settlement, Yanuh-Jatt overlooks the astonishing views of Yehiam Fortress and the Western Galilee. The local residents live a self-sustaining life, with most commodities produced locally – oil, flour, cheese and the like can be purchased directly from their makers, as fresh as can be.
The local museum provides a fascinating peak into traditional Druze life and culture; the area is dotted with watering holes and caves that can be explored on foot by young and old, who will undoubtedly also enjoy the fresh pitas and olive oil made outdoors by skilled locals.