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Old City of Jaffa

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by Mihaela Schwartz (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and an avid traveler.
Published March 30th 2013
Old Jaffa - Where It All Started
A modern and very enjoyable city, Tel Aviv is not only the symbol of modern Israel, but also an increasingly popular tourist destination. Although it will probably never compete with top city breaks destinations like New York City, Las Vegas, Paris or London, Tel Aviv is nevertheless appealing for several reasons: its gorgeous beaches caressed by the sun almost all year round and bathed by the Mediterranean waters, its white architecture, its lively nightlife, its cultural mix, and its friendly people, to mention just a few.

old jaffa

Located in the southern side of the city, Old Jaffa is nowadays an integral part of the combined municipality of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. The area's history goes back some 5000 years to the Phoenicians' time – its settlers and first inhabitants. Since then, this historical quarter of Tel Aviv has gone through different eras, and passed from one domination to another, being many times fought for and conquered by the Muslims, by the Crusaders, by Napoleon and later on by General Allenby.

If you chose Tel Aviv as your main residence while touring Israel, your hotel would most probably be located on the sea shore's proximity. From that area, you can reach Jaffa by car, taxi, bus and even on foot (just go South following the beautiful promenade along the sea shore). When entering Jaffa, you will be welcomed by the Clock Square. A spot featuring many postcards, Clock Square is probably Jaffa's busiest spot, bustling with tourists and locals as well all day long and till late at night.

old jaffa

The clock dominating the square was received by the Sultan Abdul Hamid II as a 25th reign anniversary gift back in 1906, when Jaffa was under Turkish domination. The historical landmark has been recently renovated. As a result, its doors and windows are now adorned by stained-glass decorative elements which metaphorically tell the clock's history. Spend some time admiring it, walk around and enter the shops on the main alley, taste some Middle Eastern pastry at Abulafia, and then go on exploring the adjacent streets.

If you are in the mood for some vintage shopping, take a right turn after passing the clock and you will feel like entering a different world. The streets are dotted by shops where you can find about anything from clothes, jewelry and kitchen supplies to antique furniture and second hand household appliances. During the day, a flea market is held in the area and it is bordered by restaurants.

old jaffa

If sightseeing is your preference, explore the other side of the main avenue. The cobbled streets going down to the old Jaffa harbor and to the sea make a great walking venue. The houses have been renovated and they currently house artists and their workshops. You will also find some shopping opportunities here, but the style is different. This is the place to look for exquisite souvenirs, designer clothes and fancy jewelry.

Another important stop is Kedumim Square. Much quieter than the Clock Square, it is home to a visitors' center, a few nice (but rather expensive) restaurants, and to the Church of St. Peter – a Catholic landmark initially erected in 1654 (when it replaced a medieval fortress), destroyed several times and rebuilt at the end of the 19th century.

zodiac bridge, old jaffa

Heading down towards the sea, you can enjoy a great panoramic view over Tel Aviv's skyline. Stop on the Zodiac Bridge to make a wish and continue towards the fishing port for some more landscape and atmosphere soaking.
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