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Where time stands still

The village of Fassuta is such a place where time stands still in the Upper Galilee on a side road between Ma'alot Tarshiha and Hurfeish, very close to Mitzpe Abirim

Wandering the alleyways of the village amongst the old stone houses and meeting with residents will take the traveler almost immediately, to other time zones. In Fassuta, unlike elsewhere, the residents kept tradition and rural culture which has almost completely disappeared in the country with the pace of life such as ours. Fassuta residents give a warm pleasant welcome and in order to absorb the atmosphere of the place it is worthwhile taking the time to wander through the courtyards of fruit trees and climbing vines growing in the gardens.

The villagers of Fassuta belong to the Melkite Greek-Catholic denomination created as a result of a theological dispute with the Greek Orthodox faction. At the end of the 18th century and in the early 19th century members of the community started to immigrate to Israel from Syria and Lebanon settling in two villages – Fassuta and Meilia. These are the only two villages in the whole area whose residents are all of the same religion. Fassuta today is home to about 3,000 residents.

Fassuta is identified from the days of the Talmud as a Jewish village named Mifshata where the priestly family of Harim settled after the destruction of the Temple in 70 B.C.E. The remains of the synagogue were found in the churchyard. Earlier in the fourth century B.C.E. with the conquests of Alexander of Macedon (known in the West as Alexander the Great) Greek soldiers settled in Fassuta. Sources say this was the name of a Hellenic naval military commander who narrowly escaped from a storm at sea and decided to settle as far away from the sea as possible - he found Fassuta.

Until the 80's of the 20th century, the main source of income for the villagers was tobacco. In the War of Independence, the relationship with the tobacco merchant of Haifa and the friendship with the military commander of the region greatly assisted the fact that residents of Fassuta remained in their village.

The village center and the church of Mar Elias (the Prophet Elijah) is a good starting place. The church bell has a special story - it was ordered by the leaders of the village through the Bishop of Haifa from a foundry in Beit Shihav in Lebanon. The metal that is used together with the mixture of sand, form according to the villagers the sound of pleasant bells. On the way down from the church you will notice ancient ornaments and stones embedded in the walls of the houses. The path leads to the village spring known as the Laurel Spring thanks to a large, noble Bay Laurel growing nearby.

The route on the first day of the Sea-to-Sea trip starts in Nachal Kaziv and ends in Mitzpe Abirim. We highly recommend at the end of the day, going on a short walk to Fassuta and getting lost in its narrow lanes, absorbing the special atmosphere and enjoying the amazing view towards the Western Galilee and Lebanon.