Tel Aviv – Jaffa Travel Overview
Tel Aviv – A UNESCO World Heritage City
The World Heritage Committee has inscribed The White City of Tel Aviv – The Modern Movement on the World Heritage List. Tel Aviv is an amazing example of regional urban town planning in the early 20th century.
Overview of Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Tel Aviv, is the largest city in Israel and is the cosmopolitan center of the country. Dubbed the “White City”, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003 because of its special architectural features that date back to the 1930’s. Many of the buildings, squares and avenues in Tel Aviv are built with a unique Bauhaus design and are protected by the UNESCO designation. The UNESCO proclamation confirms the exceptional and universal value of a cultural or natural site which requires protection for the benefit of all humanity. Tel Aviv represents Israel’s first modern city.
History of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 and constructed on sand dunes situated north of the ancient city of Jaffa. A few dozen people, dressed in fine clothing, joined together on the sand dunes north of Jaffa for a lottery (known as the seashell lottery) in order to divide the land that they had jointly purchased. This was just the beginning.
The city’s name comes from two words, “Tel” referring to the ancient remains of cities that are situated one on top of the other in many areas in the region and “aviv” meaning “spring” which refers to the rebirth and newness of the modern county. Most of Israel’s current population resides within one hour of Tel Aviv. Additionally the city and its outlying suburbs are home to much of the country’s business and high tech activity.
The Tel Aviv beaches are some of the country’s finest and dot the western coast of the city. The city offers a number of fantastic shopping experiences. For local handiworks, try the Nachalat Binyamin outdoor mall which is opened on Tuesdays and Fridays. Shuk HaCarmel borders Nachalat Binyamin and is opened Sunday through Friday. This outdoor shuk sells fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, clothing, housewares, luggage, nuts and cheese and many other products. Several major malls are situated throughout the city including the Ramat Aviv Mall, Givatayim Mall, Gan Hair, and Dizengoff Center. For very upscale shopping, the outdoor commercial center, Kikar Hamedina, offers numerous international boutiques and designers.
Tel Aviv neighborhoods
Jaffa is a small town that is part of the Tel Aviv municipality since 1950. The town is an integral part of Tel Aviv and is often referred to as a model of coexistence due to its Jewish, Moslem and Christian populations which live, shop, and dine all on the same streets. The neighborhood has been the scene of unrest on occasion the community remains a very attractive destination for Israelis and tourists alike. It is home to some of Tel Aviv’s most significant touristic sites including the ancient Old City of Jaffa, the Jaffa flea market, the house of Simon the Tanner as well as the Church of St. Peter. It has a rich biblical history and is mentioned in the bible four times.
Neve Tzedek was the first neighborhood built in Tel Aviv in 1887 and is considered today one of the most beautiful areas in the city with restaurants, galleries and designer shops. The Suzzane Dellal Center, Tel Aviv’s official dance center and home of the famous Bat Sheva dance group, is located here. Check for the shows available when you are in Israel: http://www.suzannedellal.org.il. Visit shops on Shabazi Street for designer stores, children’s clothes, art, pottery and other boutiques.
The Shenken Street area of Tel Aviv, with its Bauhaus buildings, local bars, restaurants and shops, is centered on Shenkin Street and has become one of the city’s trendiest areas. Besides boutiques, cafes and restaurants small gardens where locals gather to play chess dot the area.
The Yarkon Park is a haven in Tel Aviv with gardens, ponds, trees and a huge playground on 1,000 acres of green lawns running along the Yarkon River. Biking/running trails follow the river through the park. The park itself is full of activities for the whole family including a petting zoo, a climbing wall, mini golf, bike rentals and pony rides. Another fun activity is to rent a motor boat (150 shekels per hour) or a pedal boat (70 shekels per hour) for a cruise on the Yarkon River.
Just south of Tel Aviv in Jaffa, the American Colony neighborhood was established by 35 American families in the 1800s. Adjacent to Neve Tzedek, the American Colony is currently being restored back to its historic roots. Here you may stay at Beit Immanuel Christian Guesthouse and visit the heritage center or local Messianic community there. The Maine Friendship House museum, a home built in 1866 in Maine and brought to Israel by sea, is open to visitors by appointment. Phone: 03.681.9225.
TEL AVIV WALKING TOURS
The Bauhaus Center conducts tours of Israel’s World Heritage Sites in cooperation with the Israel National Commission for UNESCO with riveting walking tours of Tel Aviv’s prominent Bauhaus buildings (international style) built during the 1930s and 1940s. Special tours may be booked for groups. Individuals are invited to join our regularly scheduled general tours which are two hours and held every Friday at 10 a.m. (contact the center beforehand to confirm). The tours are conducted in Hebrew, English and German.
RELIGION IN TEL AVIV
TEL AVIV SHOPPING
The Azrielli Center is a mall topped off with an observatory on its roof with views of Tel Aviv from the highest perspective available located on the 49th floor of Israel’s tallest building. The observatory offers a 3D movie on Tel Aviv, an audio guide describing major landmarks, a gift shop, restaurant and temporary art exhibitions.
Hours: all week; Winter 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Summer 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Address: 132 Petah Tikva Rd.
Dizengoff Street is known for it designer shops and throngs of pedestrians strolling the famous street to window shop. From wedding dresses to normal clothes, you can find a variety in style and price range. Some Israeli designers with shops here include: Tovalé (220 Dizengoff St.); Gertrude (225 Dizengoff St.); Catomenta (173 Dizengoff St.); and Kalla (184 Dizengoff St.).
The Dizengoff Center, different from but located on Dizengoff Street, has two cinemas, many shops, food stands and art exhibits and events. Soho is a design center displaying exhibitions from around the world and containing the largest shop in Israel for designer products. A roof-top swimming pool and gym is open 24 hours.
Dizengoff Center, Corner of Dizengoff and King George Street
Fashion Designers Bazaar offers the latest designs of the leading fashion designers in Israel with slightly reduced prices only on Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dizengoff Center, Corner of Dizengoff and King George Street
TEL AVIV MARKETS
Carmel Market near the corner of King George and Allenby streets is worth a visit especially for its different kinds of bread and pastries, fresh produce, fish, cheese, flowers and clothing.
Nachalat Binyamin Market, is open on Tuesdays and Fridays and is known for crafts, pottery and street performances. The market offers jewelry, painted ceramics, special toys, lampshades, Judaica and a pleasant stroll through its narrow alleys.
The Flea Market in Jaffa is known for antique and modern furniture, second-hand clothes and shoes and household utensils.
A city within a city – the Philistine city of Qasile in the middle of present-day Tel-Aviv
Most of the people visiting or living in Tel-Aviv wouldn’t think that under the busy and lively modern city lies a 3200 year old Philistine city, called Tel Qasile. Its location, close to the Yarkon River and the coast, made Tel Qasile a commercial center in the 12th – 11th centuries BCE. The remains of this city can still be seen at the Eretz Israel Museum, located in north Tel-Aviv.
The 12th century BCE started with a crisis. The Mediterranean basin experienced many changes: the main empires collapsed or declined and many settlements in Canaan were ruined. The cause of this crisis is uncertain: some blame it on a climatic calamity, some on an industrial revolution, and some on political power struggles. But the usual suspects are the Sea Peoples – and the Philistines among them.
The Philistines occupied the southern coast of Canaan, and built some impressive cities. Five of them are mentioned in the Bible: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. Besides those was also Tell Qasile.
One of the big questions about the Philistines is their origin. The findings in Tel Qasile in particular, and in all the Philistine sites in general, clearly indicate that the inhabitants were not Canaanites. Most of the Philistine findings related to their architecture, art and cult bare resemblance to those of the Aegean Sea.
The excavators revealed 3 layers of Philistine settlements from Iron Age I (12th-11th century BCE). The differences between the layers indicate the development of the city, which can be seen in its private houses, public buildings and temples. The structure of Tell Qasile’s early temples can be compared to the structure of temples from Phylakopi (a site in the island of Milos) and Mycenae (in mainland Greece).
The findings from the temples include a variety of cult objects, like figures, masks and offering bowls. Three objects are very interesting and meaningful:
- A vessel shaped like a woman whose breasts probably poured out milk as part of a ritual of fertility.
- A lion-shaped cup, a traditional Philistine artifact, which reminds descriptions of Aegean emissaries’ vessels in Egyptian drawings.
- Offering bowls decorated with bird figurines. The bird seems to be a Philistine motif – it decorates ceramic objects, daily-used or for cultic purpose, and the Philistines ships, as they were described in Egyptian drawings.
The Philistine city was ruined in a big fire in the 10th century BCE, but was later rebuilt. The site was settled through all the ages (in various degrees) till the Byzantine period.
Every Friday during the summer, Beit Tefila offers a musical welcome to the Sabbath at the beautiful Tel Aviv Port. Services are based on the traditional text with traditional and modern hymns. The services take place at the southern edge of the boardwalk near Metzitzim Beach. Details regarding services and times can be found at their web site: http://www.btfila.org.
This article was written with the help of Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah.
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