In Talmudic times, Har Nof was an agricultural settlement that served Jerusalem. Remains of ancient wine presses, farmhouses and terraces built 1,500 years ago have been unearthed on the outskirts of Har Nof. The first homes in modern Har Nof were built in the early 1980s.
Har Nof is a terraced neighborhood on the slopes of a mountain that sits 813 meters above sea level. Due to the topography, many of the multi-storey apartment buildings have entrances on both sides of the building – one to reach the lower floors and another to reach the higher floors. Some streets are connected by long flights of stairs. At the foot of Har Nof lies the 1,200 dunam Jerusalem Forest (Yaar Yerushalayim), planted in the 1950s as a green lung around the city.
The majority of the residents of Har Nof are Orthodox Jews, both Haredi and Dati Leumi. Many residents are recent olim. The neighborhood has a large community of English-speaking olim, including notable French-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities. There are also communities of Ger and Vizhnitz Hasidim, as well many Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews. The former Sefardic chief rabbi and leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, lived in Har Nof until his death on October 7, 2013.