The Sephardic Synagogue of the Ari is Tzfat's oldest house of prayer. It was originally dedicated to Elijah the Prophet, almost 300 years before the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) came to Tzfat in the sixteenth century. The Ari is said to have prayed here; an alcove is shown where he communed with Elijah.
The synagogue’s facade, with two niches flanking the door, apparently for lamps, has recently been restored by the Israel Antiquities Authority. True to Sephardic style, the synagogue has two focal points: the southern wall – closest to Jerusalem – for the Holy Ark (in this case, three arks), and the central, raised Bimah.
Perhaps the most revered spot in the Ari Synagogue is the small room just left of the Bima as you enter the synagogue, where it is said that the Ari was visited by Elijah the Prophet, who revealed to him the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah.
It is said of this special room, that there was a time when one who entered it would die, until the noted Sephardic Rabbi and Kabbalist known as The Baba Sali (Rabbi Yisrael Abu Hatzera) entered the room and through his spiritual powers was able to effect a change so that all could safely enter.
One of the more interesting features of this synagogue is an ancient well which was dug next to the Bima when the synagogue was first built. It's seven hundred years old, but if you are lucky to find someone to unlock the wood covering over the well, you will see that it still is filled with water.