Daliyat el-Carmel is a Druze village high on the slopes of Mt. Carmel and has an exceptionally unique character. It is a colorful village that offers wonderful hospitality with a smile and is also very interesting. The Druze is an ethnic group that split off from Islam in Egypt about 1,000 years ago. According to the Druze, their religion is the renewal of an ancient faith that became a secret known only to the group’s sages. Daliyat el-Carmel was founded in the 17th century by Druze from Mt. Lebanon. To the south of Daliyat el-Carmel is another Druze village, Isfiya, which was united with Daliyat el-Carmel in 2003 into a single town whose official name is Carmel.
Daliyat el-Carmel’s colorful market, open on Saturdays, is only an excuse to come to this special place. On the main street dozens of stores offer their varied wares and one can get lost in the abundance and variety. Between the stores are many restaurants serving genuine Druze ethnic foods, bakeries that fill the air with the sweet smell of baklava pastries. Other food stands sell high quality olive oil, olives, pita bread and locally produced labaneh cheese. The flurry of activity, the colors, the new beside the old, and the village bustling with people are a multi-sensational experience not to be missed. The market also has a few galleries where cultural evenings can be held, alongside the Druze hospitality.
Apart from Daliyat el-Carmel’s main street, with its tourist center, on 22nd Street there is the house of Sir Laurence Oliphant, an Englishman who loved the Holy Land and moved here in 1880 to help the Jews during the period of the First Aliya wave of immigration. Today his house serves as a military memorial to village residents who served in the Israel Defense Forces and gave their lives for their country. The front courtyard of the house is a plaza that overlooks the slopes of the Carmel hills.
The Druze heritage house is on 8th Street houses an exhibit about the Druze lifestyle. One can also just wander around the village to no specific place; walk through the narrow passageways that wend their way between old houses, prayer halls and holy sites, beside olive oil presses, textile workshops and art galleries.
In recent years the villagers have begun hosting groups in their homes, and such a visit offers a glimpse of their houses, culture and tradition. The local residents offer tourists and genuine ethnic foods, wear their traditional clothes, tell stories about the Druze heritage and there are even guest houses designed with an authentic Druze décor.
There are excellent places for nature hikes all over the Carmel, and the Mukhraka and Carmelite monastery are sites highly recommended for their beautiful views.