One of the final homes of the Druze people, the Israeli village of Beit Jann preserves not just its people’s culture but also the building materials that they established the village with.
Nestled atop Mount Meron in northern Israel, Beit Jann has existed since at least the 16th century, providing a home for a population of the Druze people, a religious minority in Israel. As the legend goes, Druze communities existed in the area much earlier, congregating near water sources, but it was not until a pair of hunters chased a hare into a hidden cave where they found a fresh spring and hunting bows that they knew this would be the place for the Druze people to create a settlement. The oldest structure in the village now stands on the spot where the cave is said to have been found.
Today the population hovers at above 10,000 citizens, all of Druze descent, save one Muslim family that moved to the area in the 1940’s. As the population of the village has grown, new structures including homes, benches, and tombstones have repurposed materials from some of the first buildings and even built on their foundations. Thanks to this recycling, the primarily white building aesthetic has been retained throughout most of the village.
Throughout all of modern Israel, there are estimated to be only around 125,000 Druze people left and Beit Jann is one of the greatest places to experience their culture without adulteration.