It is certainly no coincidence that the Hebrew name for Jaffa- "Yafo"- is said to originate from the Hebrew word "yofi" meaning beauty. The charming Old jaffa, situated south-west of the city of Jaffa, remains one of the few places that is relatively untouched; preserving the ancient beauty that makes Old Jaffa the unique location that it is. Old Jaffa boasts one of the oldest ports in the world, a variety of restaurants, a flea market and a simply unique experience.
Jaffa was the city that Jewish immigrants flocked through before the State was established and shortly after Israel was re-born in 1948, poverty-stricken Jewish families settled the city. In the sixties, the Israeli government took steps to develop Old Jaffa and to try and restore and honor the once-glorious city. Since then, Old Jaffa has been a popular tourist attraction, with people arriving to soak up the rugged beauty that it offers.
A selection of the delights that Old Jaffa has to offer:
•The legendary 24-hour Abulafia bakery that is located on the main street of Jaffa, Yeffeth Street and has been around, with good reason, since 1879. The Abulafia bakery produces mouth-watering delights that are created by Muslims, Christians and Jews, who work side-by-side in a hopeful picture of co-existence.
•The Clock Square was built in the Ottoman period in honor of Sultan Abed al-Hamid II's twenty-fifth anniversary and is the center-point of Jaffa, surrounded by markets.
•The Libyan Synagogue, known as Beit Zunana, purchased by Zunana in the eighteenth century, metamorphosed from Synagogue to hostel to soap factory. With the establishment of the State in 1948, once again became a Synagogue for Libyan immigrants and in 1995 became a museum.
•Jaffa's Hill is a center for archaeological excavations of ancient cities with the oldest being the restored ancient Egyptian gates that are dated at a fantastic 3,500 years!
•Abu-Hasan offers authentic Arab Hummus which is served fresh from the morning, which according to Arab tradition is the best time to eat it. Hummus is a staple in Israel and it must be said that if you are not used to the chickpea concoction, it may be best eaten as a mid-day lunch as opposed to a morning meal!
•The famous Flea Market is open every day with Friday being the busiest day by far. It is a lovely place to wander through on late mornings in the week or if you are looking for the more authentic, hectic experience when the stock is displayed in the street then Fridays is the day for you.
•The Old Jaffa Port is an ancient, yet very much active port that is home to a variety of stores, art galleries, restaurants and marina. Day trips that allow you to take in the stunning Tel aviv-Jaffa horizon from the sea set sail from the marina.
Neve tzedek ("Oasis of Justice") located south of the Yemenite Quarter, was the first Jewish neighborhood built outside of Jaffa, founded in 1883 by the Chelouche family and officially established in 1887. This once slummy area is now a highly charming, character-filled area that is filled with restaurants, boutiques and cafés that offer top-end food, fashion, jewelry, ceramics and more. Neve Tzedek is a cultural and culinary delight that is found next to the southern Tel aviv beach.
Famous Israeli figures such as Nobel Prize Laureate, Sha"I Agnon, writer Haim Brenner and artist Nahum Gutman resided in the early Neve Tzedek before it started to disintegrate due to neglect. In the eighties, the neighborhood began to re-awaken, setting the stage for the stylish, yuppie, much-desired residence that is has become.
Neve Tzedek is home to the Suzanne Dellal Center (6 Yehieli St.), established by the Dellal family as a center for Israeli dance, made famous by the BatSheva Dance Company and BatSheva Ensemble. It was largely due to the Dellal family's bold move that Neve Tzedek was re-born in the eighties. Today, one of the most important theatrical and cultural centers in Israel, it is worth checking if there will be performances on when you visit: http://www.suzannedellal.org.il
The Rokach house, located at 36 Simon Rokach St., is famously one of the first houses in Neve Tzedek and was restored in the late eighties by Lea Majaro Mintz, none other than the granddaughter of the original owner.
If one is interested in viewing the very first house built in Neve Tzedek, one can visit the Chelouche House which was built by the very man who founded the neighbourhood in 1887, Aharon Chelouche. Since 2003, the residence is an art gallery that displays temporary exhibitions. One can stand on the roof of the nineteenth-century feel house for a stunning view of the neighbourhood. The house is situated on 32 Shlush St. and is open Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 AM 'til 5:00 PM, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00 AM 'til 8:00 PM and Fridays from 10:00 AM 'til 2:00 PM.
The Nahum Gutman Museum is located on Rochach St. and displays the works of the Tel Avivian artist, Nahum Gutman, who successfully captured the spirit and essence of early Tel Aviv. His works take one back on a magical journey and allow one a glimpse into the old world.
If all the sight-seeing makes one peckish, there is an abundance of eateries in the area; the Suzanna Cafe, with its lovely terrace, is located close to the Suzanne Dellal Center, the Michelle bar offers breakfast menus early on in the day and there is frequently live entertainment in the evenings, the vegetarian Nina cafe is a delightful organic culinary experience and Bellini offers Italian cuisine with beautiful views.
Neve Tzedek is a mere two minutes from the luxurious Dan Panorama and David Intercontinental hotels making it an ideal start to a day for those staying there. Alternatively, buses 44 and 46 get one directly there. Bus 25 takes one to Monifiori St., a ten minute walk from Neve Tzedek and Bus 4 gets to the intersection of Allenby and Echad Ha'Am, from where one can also walk to Neve Tzedek.
In 1987 the city made Nachalat Binyamin into a pedestrian mall by closing off the three streets that make up the neighborhood to vehicles and the largest arts-and-crafts fair in Israel was born.
The neighborhood was created by an association of tradesmen, clerks and shopkeepers who wanted to create a neighborhood similar to the city's first district, Ahuzat Bayit. In those days, Nachalat Binyamin Street, the central street of the neighborhood, was the longest road in the city. The first dwellers were craftsmen who were looking for affordable housing. In the early twentieth century a small number of houses were built and the neighborhood joined up with the city of Tel aviv so that the neighborhood could fully develop.
Every Tuesday and Friday the street comes to life with a festival of arts, crafts and performances. Over two-hundred artists set up their stalls on a regular basis and offer unique, handmade wares to pedestrians who wander the three-pronged streets of the neighborhood. The merchandise ranges from jewelry to glass ornaments, from Judaica items to purses, from stuffed animals to ceramic pots, and much, much more. All products are sold by the artists themselves which makes for an interesting experience, allowing the potential buyers to hear first-hand about the product and to find the most suitable one for them.
For the less shopping-inclined, the open-air bazaar that is Nachalat Binyamin makes for a pleasant stroll, with fine restaurants, quaint cafes, breath-taking street performances and beautiful live music. Nachalat Binyamin is simply a must for those visiting Tel Aviv who are looking to buy one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends or just looking for an entertaining day out.
Hours: The pedestrian mall at Nachalat Binyamin is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, in June until 6:00 PM and in the months of July and August until 7:00 PM. In the case of heavy rain or winds the pedestrian mall isn't open.
Tayelet is Hebrew for "promenade" and the Tel aviv Tayelet runs for two kilometers all the way from Jaffa in the south to Hatzok Beach in the north. The walkway is designed in a unique fluid, swirly design that is visible from planes that come in to land at Ben Gurion Airport and is situated on the corner of Herbert Samuel Boulevard in Tel Aviv, by the Yarkon River.
The Tayelet is often busy at all times of day, from early-morning runners to late-night revelers in peak summer season. Weekends and summer days see buskers, portrait artists and jewelry sellers trying to persuade passer-bys to part with their shekels. In the summer, street performances are common, adding a magical touch to the site. The view of the sea is enchanting at all times of the year and people from all walks of life can be found marveling at it's beauty throughout the day.
For the bikers among us, the Tayelet provides a perfect opportunity to avoid the fumes of the city and to take in the lovely view that sets the scene for the journey from one end of the city to the other.
A popular tourist location, the Old jaffa Port was once the place where Jewish immigrants passed through when resettling the land before the establishment of the State. Today, the port is a delightful, buzzing location that is home to artist studios, boutiques, art galleries, Judaica stores and restaurants, which all line the narrow alley-ways of the Old Jaffa Port which are quirkily named after Zodiac signs. Local fishermen continue the centuries-old tradition as they frequent the Old Jaffa Port to this day.
Archaeological evidence proves that Jaffa has served as a port city for a few thousand years. In fact, it is believed by historians that Jaffa port, located south of Tel aviv, is the only port in the entire world that has been inhabited in an uninterrupted fashion from the moment it existed. The Bible relates that Lebanese cedars were brought into the Holy Land via Jaffa in the time of King Solomon for the purpose of building the first Temple. Additionally, when Jonah famously fled from before G-d, he did so from none other than the Jaffa port.
The Old Jaffa Port is home to a marina and visitors can set sail in the footsteps of many hundreds before them. There are daily trips to view the stunning Tel Aviv-Jaffa horizon from the sea. Additionally, one can climb from the port to the top of the Old Jaffa Hill where one can find the Franciscan Church of St. Peter, where it is claimed that Napoleon stayed after the city was captured.
The Jaffa Flea Market ("Shuk HaPishPishim" in Hebrew) is one of the main attractions in the Old jaffa city. Any visitor looking for antiques, second-hand treasures, bargains or simply a fantastic experience must make sure to visit the Flea Market. It is situated not far from the Clock Tower and provides the full market experience- the sounds of the haggling, the smells of the produce, the interaction with the merchants and the exciting atmosphere of the give-and-take between buyer and seller.
The Jaffa Flea Market is made up of three areas- on the main street are the antique furniture, carpets and oriental ornaments shops, on the two, covered alleys one can find clothing, jewelry and souvenirs and the open market is where the second-hand goods are.
The Jaffa Flea Market has come a long way from it's beginnings- the name "Flea Market" is due to the fact that the second-hand clothes that used to be sold there would literally be crawling with fleas. Thankfully, today one can get the authentic yet cleaner "Flea Market Experience" alongside the hippy restaurants, cafés and art galleries that have sprung up in the wake of the area's development and successful attraction of a younger crowd. In the summer, the Flea Market is open on Thursday nights, with live music creating a great atmosphere.
You can buy almost anything at the Flea Market; toys, clothing, jewelry, Judaica, Persian tiles, shoes, old records, and the list goes on. The prices depend on your haggling abilities but one thing is for sure- the Jaffa Flea Market makes for a fantastically entertaining day out, allowing the visitor to enjoy the feel of an old Middle Eastern market and possibly walking away with some smashing bargains.
Rothschild Boulevard (known in Hebrew as Sderot Rotshild) is one of the main streets in Tel aviv. It begins at the southwesterly neighborhood of Neve tzedek and runs all the way to the Habima Theatre in the centre of Tel Aviv. It is an extremely busy and pricey street and a huge tourist attraction, both due to historical significance and architecturally fascinating buildings.
The original name of Rothschild Boulevard was Rehov HaAm (translates to mean "Street of the people") and was changed at the request of the residents, to honor Baron Edmond James de Rothschild.
Places of interest on Rothschild Boulevard:
• There is a house on the street corner where the street meets Herzl Street that was built at the turn of the nineteenth century by one of Tel Aviv's founding families, the Eliavson family. The building was restored in recent years by the French Institute.
• Independence Hall, the famous location of the signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence is situated on Rothschild Boulevard.
• Several buildings on the street are built in the Bauhaus style, the style that caused Tel Aviv to be recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. There is a free tour of the Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv that leaves every Saturday at 11 a.m. from 46 Rothschild Boulevard (corner Shadal St.)
• At the intersection with Allenby Street, the 1925 Lederberg house can be found that features ceramic murals designed by a graduate of the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Ze'ev Raban.
Be sure to make your way over to Tel Aviv's most beautiful boulevard, Rothschild when in Tel Aviv for a coffee in one of the many coffee shops that live the street, a quick snack in one of the many snack shops or just to enjoy a pleasant stroll along this historic street.
Shlomo Lahat, mayor of Tel aviv between 1974 and 1993, presented this beach to the then mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Koleck and since then the beach has been known as the Jerusalem Beach. The beach is popular with both locals and visitors with many teenagers, families and sport players frequenting the beach with it's fish restaurant, playground and volleyball courts. The beach is open all year round with lifeguard services available during the winter. Hof Yerushalayim is the name of the beach eatery and it features seating on the sand.