Thousands of years of history come together in Jaffa,
one of the world’s oldest cities and the birthplace of Tel Aviv. A centre of tourism, food and fun, with an exotic Levantine ambience.
Driving to Jaffa
is like going through a time tunnel – skyscrapers soar on the left,
while ahead lays a city with thousands of years behind it. The gleaming
glass towers give way to weathered stone and ancient arches.
main port of the ancient land of Israel, and one of the first ports in
the world, Jaffa was a centre of commerce and culture, agriculture and
tourism, the destination of shipping lines from Alexandria and Beirut.
From the Clock Tower Square, convoys of wagons and camels fanned out to
all parts of the land, and pilgrims made their way on foot to the holy
city of Jerusalem.
clock tower built by the Turkish Sultan Abd al-Hamid the II in 1906,
when the land was under Ottoman rule, has undergone a facelift, as has
the square surrounding it. In the alley next to the Mahmuddiyah mosque,
men are absorbed in endless games of backgammon, or shesh-besh,
to use the local parlance. Coffeehouses offering narghiles to smoke
along with tiny cups of strong black Turkish coffee create an authentic
the west of the plaza are the port and the sea. Fishermen lean
patiently on the stone walls bordering the promenade, waiting for a
nibble of their lines. The waves break gently on Andromeda’s Rock, just
out to sea.
port hasn’t changed much since the days when it was the main gateway
for the worldwide export of the juicy oranges that came to bear its name
It also welcomed the first waves of Jewish immigration starting in the
1880s, when the new arrivals would disembark from their ships onto small
boats that took them into the shallow port. Theodor Herzl himself
arrived in this way.
the port serves small fishing boats. At the crack of dawn, bleary-eyed
fishermen in yellow slickers unload the night’s catch and fold up their
nets on the decks. Early risers can buy freshly caught fish and seafood
right from the pier.
stairs ascend from the edge of the port into the alleyways of Jaffa’s
Old City. There you can explore galleries showcasing art and Judaica,
the Ilana Goor Museum, archeological exhibits and charming cafes. From the square in front of St. Peter’s Church,
near the Turkish cannons and the statues depicting the soldiers of
Napoleon, who stayed here during his attempted conquest of the Holy
Land, look northward for a stunning view of Tel Aviv and its seashore.
Jaffa is also home to a synagogue built by Libyan Jews in the 18th century and a 19th century Arab-Maronite neighborhood of spacious houses with terra cotta-tiled roofs.
the main commercial thoroughfare, Jerusalem Boulevard, you’ll find the
Gesher Theater, a wealth of small eastern atmosphere. Near the Fountain
Square is the Reform movement’s new Mishkenot Daniel Jaffa center and
just down the road is the Flea Market, a world unto itself.
Association for Tourism Tel Aviv-Jaffa offers free guided walking tours
of Jaffa every Wednesday in English. Meeting point: the Clock Tower of
Yefet Street, at 9:30 a.m. No need for advance booking – just come along