Tel Aviv, with its golden beaches and vibrant cosmopolitan outlook, is Israel’s most modern metropolis. Most visitors land here to soak up the sun, shop-to-drop in snappy boutiques and enjoy some serious foodie action in the city’s famous cafe and restaurant scene. The beach may be the main tourist draw, but Tel Aviv has more attractions than its famous stretch of sand. Nicknamed “The White City”, the city was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2003 for its beautiful examples of Bauhaus architecture (an early 20th-century modernist architectural style). The city itself is full of things to do, with plenty of small museums and funky art galleries providing excellent sightseeing. Jaffa, just to the south,
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1 Beaches of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is defined by its location on the coast. The beaches attract tourists and locals alike. On weekends, Tel Aviv’s sandy beaches are packed with sunbathers, posers and people just chilling. The most popular sandy beaches are centrally Gordon Beach , Frishman Beach , and Banana Beach where you will find excellent facilities such as freshwater showers, sun loungers and parasols for hire. The Tayelet (cobbled promenade) that runs along the beach between central Tel Aviv and Jaffa is the main evening promenade area and is lined with many cafes and restaurants that allow for an easy day at the beach.
Location: Tel Aviv waterfront
A short walk south along the coast from central Tel Aviv takes you to the ancient Arab port city of Jaffa, with its preserved acropolis remains and well-restored stone architecture. Much of the original bazaar area is now home to restaurants and craft boutiques. It is particularly lively in the evening when the old town mixes with diners. The flea market here is the biggest attraction for visitors, full of the buzz of a real souk St. Peter’s Monastery and the Old Portarea itself is also not to be missed. Compared to the big city hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv, Jaffa is a wonderfully peaceful place for a stroll that, despite serious gentrification, still retains its old-world charm.
Location: 2 kilometers south of Tel Aviv
3 Yemeni Quarter
One of Tel Aviv’s most atmospheric neighborhoods, the Yemeni Quarter is full of winding alleys with old architecture that has withstood the area’s gentrification. It was first settled by Yemenite Jews in the early 20th century, and the original feel of the tightly packed streets is still alive and well. The neighborhood is adjacent to Carmel Market – busy, colorful, full of fresh produce and Tel Aviv’s answer to Jerusalem’s famous Mahane Yehuda Market. If you’re hungry in Tel Aviv and want a cheap meal, this is the place to go.
Location: Off Allenby Street, Central City
4 Dizengoff Circle & Surrounds
The centerpiece of Tel Aviv is this central square, laid out on two levels with a raised area for pedestrians above the roadway and topped by the peculiar modern art Fire and Water Fountain , designed by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. The square and the road next to it are named after Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv after the city separated from Jaffa. From the circle, Dizengoff Street runs southeast to Habima Square , Tel Aviv’s cultural center and home to the Habima Theater , built in 1935. Here you’ll also find the excellent Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art , which has a program of temporary art exhibitions houses.
Adres: Dizengoff Street, Central City
5 Tel Aviv Art Museum
A leading light in Israel’s contemporary art scene, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art contains works by Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Henry Moore, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and the world’s largest collection of work by Israeli artists. A particular highlight is Alois Breyer’s collection of prints and architectural renderings from the early 20th century of wooden Ukrainian synagogues, all of which were destroyed during World War II. The ultra-modern building with its refined architecture perfectly houses and highlights the works of art. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum regularly organizes temporary exhibitions and other events.
Adres: Shaul HaMelech Boulevard 27, Central City
Official site: www.tamuseum.org.il
6 Name Tzedek Quarter
The funky neighborhood of Neve Tzedek is the city’s oldest neighborhood, with European Jewish settlers first building homes here in the 1880s. These beautiful old buildings have been well preserved, and many now house artsy boutiques, cafes and some of the city’s hippest restaurants. Nestled within the quarter on Rochkach Street, you’ll find two of its main points of interest: the Rockach House , home to a small sculpture gallery, and the Nachum Gutman Art Museum , which displays the artwork of this Israeli painter. In the southwestern corner of the district is the old Ottoman railway station called Hatachana . This has been restored and reopened as a rather stylish complex of cafes, restaurants and designer boutiques.
Location: Central City
7 Bialik Street
Little Bialik Street is home to three historic houses that will interest history and culture buffs. The Home of artist Reuven Rubin is now a museum dedicated to his work, filled with paintings and old photographs of Tel Aviv. Further down the street, Bialik House was once the residence of poet Chaim Nachman Bialik and is now a tribute to his life and works. Next door is the original Tel Aviv City Hall, now known as Beit Ha’ir . It contains displays documenting the history of Tel Aviv.
Location: Central City
8 Namal: The Old Port Area
Namal: The Old Port Area
Tel Aviv’s old port area (known as Namal) has been smoothly rejuvenated and is now a hip hang-out strip full of shops and cafes. The promenade here is a favorite for strolling young people, while families flock to the area at weekends. The area is home to small private art galleries and an excellent covered market. Weekends often feature free live music concerts and other events and family-friendly entertainment. This is a great place to come if you have kids as there is usually plenty to keep them occupied.
Location: Off HaYarkon Street
Official site: www.namal.co.il
9 Eretz Israel Museum
The Eretz Israel Museum (Land of Israel Museum) occupies a complex of buildings that also includes the Tell the archaeological site of Qasile. The complex includes a planetarium and pavilions with displays on ceramics, glass, the history of writing, science, ethnography and folklore. At the center of the complex is Tell Qasile, where Israeli archaeologists have identified 12 settlements dating back to the 12th century BC. Stratum XII and Stratum XI are attributed to the Philistines, while Stratum X dates from the 10th century when the kings of Israel had a port here. Later layers show that the site was still occupied during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras and was only finally abandoned in favor of nearby Jaffa during the Islamic period.
Address: 2 Chaim Levanon Street, Tel Aviv
10 Beit Hatefutsoth
Beit Hatefutsoth (the Diaspora Museum, also known as the Museum of the Jewish People) illustrates the life and culture of the Jewish people around the world, throughout history. The museum displays a wide variety of exhibits, including film footage and models, to document the world’s Jewish population through the ages. In particular, the highlight of a visit here are the exhibits dedicated to the Ethiopian Jewish community and the Bob Dylan exhibition. There is also an excellent new children’s department with interactive multimedia screens.
Address: 2 Klausner Street
Official site: www.bh.org.il
This popular seaside resort sits on a beautiful golden sandy beach that stretches for more than ten kilometres. The coastline is the main attraction. Tel Aviv residents flock here on sunny weekends to relax with friends and family. Downtown is full of cafes and restaurants and really buzzes with energy during the summer evenings. It’s a quieter alternative to Tel Aviv if you don’t like the hustle and bustle of the big city, and there are plenty of accommodation options here. The Jewish Legion Museum (four kilometers north of the city center) documents the achievements of Jewish military units in the British Army during the First World War.
Location: 32 kilometers north of Tel Aviv
Although now best known as the home of Ben-Gurion International Airport, Lod has a rich history. Founded by the tribe of Benjamin after the Israelite occupation of the Promised Land, Lod was later destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC. From the 4th century it was settled by Greeks who renamed it Lydda. During the Byzantine era, Lydda/Lod became an important Christian center, and St. Paul is said to have healed a bedridden man here before continuing on to Caesarea. It is also one of the cities mentioned on the famous 6th century Madaba Map of the Holy Land in Madaba, Jordan. Today you can visit Lod’s Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, which was rebuilt in 1870 over the original Crusader-era chapel here, and the El-Chodr Mosque , built in the 12th century.
Location: 22 kilometers southeast of Tel Aviv
13 Yitzhak Rabin Center
The Yitzhak Rabin Center (named after Israel’s former Prime Minister) is home to the Israel Museum, which contains a wealth of information about Israel itself, and about Yitzhak Rabin – who was murdered by Jewish terrorists after making peace with Jordan in 1995. The museum’s highly detailed exhibits include a multitude of archived films and photographs. They take visitors through Israeli history from the early 20th century, while focusing on Rabin’s biography from his early years, through his life as a soldier, and then in government and as the country’s leader, to his murder.
Address: 8 Haim Levanon Street, Tel Aviv
14 Rothschild Boulevard
This central city street is home to some of the best Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv and is a great place for a stroll, especially in the early evening. There are two museums along the way where you can stop in between admiring the preserved buildings. The Independence Hall (Beit Dizengoff) is the former residence of the first mayor of Tel Aviv and is the place where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. Inside, an exhibit of mementos from this event is on display. Also along the road is the house once occupied by Haganah Commander Eliyahu Golomb, now home to the Haganah Museum, which documents the Haganah guerrilla forces actively attacking British Mandate rule. There are weapons displays and information about the Haganah activities inside.
Location: Central City
Although Tel Aviv itself is a modern city, Jaffa , just to the south, has been occupied for centuries. Excavations in recent years have revealed a wall dating to the Hyksos period (18th-16th centuries BC), and archaeologists have also found a stone door with an inscription in the name of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II from the 13th century BC. Around 1200 BC, the Philistines settled in Jaffa and further Tell Qasile (north of the Yarqon River). Later (about 1000 BC) the city was captured by David and it is believed that his son Solomon imported cedar wood to Lebanonfor the construction of the temple in Jerusalem by the port of Jaffa or the port at Tell Qasile. In later centuries, however, Jaffa’s population was predominantly Phoenician and from the 3rd century BC predominantly Greek. During the 1st century B.C. The port of Jaffa lost its leading position to the newly founded city of Caesarea.
The Christian era in Jaffa began with the visit of the apostle Peter (Acts 9:36-43) and it became the bishop of the 4th century AD. In AD 636, it was conquered by the Arabs, and during the 7th and 8th centuries enjoyed a period of prosperity under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs. The Crusaders destroyed the city in 1099 and then rebuilt the walls; afterwards the port was used by pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. However, the Crusader occupation ended with the capture of the city by the Mameluke Sultan Baibars in 1267. Afterwards, Jaffa lay in a deserted state for many centuries.
From 1520, Palestine was ruled by the Ottomans, who in 1650 allowed Franciscan monks to build a church and a pilgrim hospice in Jaffa. In 1807 Mahmud, whose strictness earned him the name Abu Nebut (“Father of the Bat”), became Pasha of Gaza and made Jaffa his capital. Many monuments in Jaffa date from this era, including the Seraglio (now a museum), the nearby Hammam, the Mahmudiye Mosque and the Abu Nebut Fountain.
A new period of development under European auspices began in the mid-19th century.
The “capitulations” in agreement with the Ottoman government provided great influence over the European powers in Palestine. The French built hospitals and enlarged monasteries and churches. The Russians built a church dedicated to Saint Peter at the “Tomb of Tabitha” on the hill of Abu Kabir. Further north, the Jewish settlements of Neve Tzedek and Neve Shalom were established.
In 1892, French engineers built a railway between Jaffa and Jerusalem. In 1909, immigrants from Russia founded the purely Jewish suburb of Ahuzat Bayit, with the Herzl Grammar School (on a site now occupied by the Shalom Tower). This marked the beginning of the modern city, which was named Tel Aviv in 1910, and after the Arab riots in 1921, Jaffa broke away and became an independent city. During the British Mandate (1920-48), wide new streets were cut through Jaffa’s maze of alleys to make it easier to control disorder. By 1924 the city had a population of 35,000.
The United Nations Plan for the Partition of Palestine (1947) proposed that Jaffa (population 100,000, including 30,000 Jews) would remain Arab and Tel Aviv (population 230,000) would become Jewish. In 1948, when the British Mandate was dissolved, an Arab sniper attack led to Jewish forces capturing Jaffa. Much of Jaffa’s Arab population fled during the attack. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel in the former home of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. In 1949, the old center of Jaffa was merged with the new Jewish city under the name Tel Aviv-Yafo.