Some 143,000 Druze living in Israel are a unique ethnic minority amongst Arab citizens of this country. They speak Arabic language, and they also serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Druze are a religious minority too, but even though the religion of this community originated from Ismaili Islam, generally speaking, Druze are not considered Muslims. They mostly inhabit several lovely villages and multi-religious Arabic towns, particularly in the north of the country, in Upper and Lower Galilee, Mount Carmel, and the Golan Heights. Let’s check out a few wonderful Druze villages in Israel.
This lovely Druze town is located in the Haifa District, some 20km from the city of Haifa, on Mount Carmel, in the very heart of the Carmel National Park. As a matter of fact, this is Israel’s southernmost and largest Druze town, established four centuries ago. There are many things to see here: start with the popular market in the town center, maybe buy one of many beautiful traditional Druze and Arab products, then proceed to the memorial center for fallen Druze IDF soldiers, the home of the author Sir Laurence Oliphant, and to the shrine of Abu Ibrahim who is consider a prophet by Druze. Nearby, you’ll find the Muhraqa Monastery and the Carmel Center for Druze Heritage – a museum of Druze history, culture, and religion. In 2011, the Garden of the Mothers was opened in this town. It symbolizes the sisterhood of Druze, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian women from the Women’s Interfaith Network. Near the town, you can visit the gorgeous Mount Carmel National Park, Israel's largest national park, home to many bicycle and walking paths, dedicated nature reserves, and over 250 archaeological sites. If you're up for exploration, visit the Caves of Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara, in the Carmel mountain range, declared a site of "outstanding universal value" by UNESCO.
This charming Druze-majority town is located on Mount Carmel, as a part of Haifa District. It was established in the early 18th century on the ruins of an ancient, Byzantine settlement. Many Crusader ornaments and relics were found here, which is why the historians believe that this village used to be a Crusader center. Visitors can see the excavated remains of the 5th-century Jewish settlement of Husifah, which includes a synagogue and its mosaic floor with Jewish symbols. That’s not all, as some. 4,500 gold coins from the Roman Period were also discovered, as well as a building, ceramics, and coins from the 2nd-4th centuries CE. Isfiya is also home to the tomb of Abu Abdallah who was one of three religious leaders chosen in 996 CE to proclaim the Druze faith, and who is believed to be the first Druze qadi (religious judge).
Maghar is a beautiful Druze-majority village in the Northern District of the country, the home of numerous notable residents. Its name comes from the Arabic word for "the caves", and it is a place filled with ancient treasures. A quarry has been excavated in Maghar, while pottery remnants from the early Roman period, as well as architectural and pottery remains from the Late Roman period were unearthed. In 2003, the Israel Circus School and Circus Maghar established a joint Jewish-Arab "Children’s Circus". The children toured Cyprus and gave performances and workshops for Christian and Muslim schools and community centers.
The picturesque Peki'in, with its specialty shops and enjoyable local restaurants, is located 8km from Ma'alot-Tarshiha in the Upper Galilee. This was likely a large village, judged from the many ancient objects and sites discovered on this locations, such as potsherds and Ossuaries of the Chalcolithic period, and a burial site nearby. Many also believe that a Jewish community has lived here continuously since the Second Temple period, given that a number of Jewish traditions are associated with a town called Peki'in, written also as Baka and Paka, though the first written record where this particular site is mentioned without a doubt is a 1765 Hebrew travel book. The Druze Youth Movement in Israel has its headquarters in this town, while around 60,000 tourists visit Peki'in each year.
The last Druze town on this list is no less charming. Known in the Crusader era as Seisor or Saor, Sajur is situated in the Galilee region. In 1249, land which includes Sajur, Nahf, Majd al-Krum, and Beit Jann was transferred to the Teutonic Knights by John Aleman, the Lord of Caesarea. Several fascinating archeological remains were unearthed in Sajur in 2002: a tomb with thirteen loculi (types of tombs, catacombs, or mausoleums) dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods, a tomb with eight or nine loculi dating back to the end of the 2nd century CE, and a small tomb with one room dating to the 1st–2nd centuries CE. Furthermore, there is evidence of Iron Age occupation at Sajur. Also, according to Jewish tradition, the tombs of Ishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen and Simeon Shezuri are located here.