Ancient Safed is located on a chalky hill in the mountainous eastern area of Upper Galilee. On the summit of the hill, 834 m above sea level, is an elongated ancient mound, c. 10 a. in area, settled from the Middle Bronze Age onward. In the Crusader and Mameluke periods, towering citadels were built on the hill. A number of medieval and Ottoman quarters, still partly preserved, extended along the slopes of the hill surrounding the citadel. The site is first mentioned by Josephus (War II, 573) as Seph, a site he fortified between Achbara and Yamnit. It is thereafter referred to in numerous Jewish and Arab sources and became the main urban center in the Galilee in the second millennium CE.

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