Jaffa, Israel

By | November 24, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Jaffa is one of the oldest cities and at the same time the main port of ancient Israel on the Mediterranean Sea. The history of Jaffa goes back centuries, to the time of the Egyptian pharaohs and the ancient Romans. Today, this town, populated mainly by Arabic-speaking residents, has turned into a southern suburb of one of the largest Israeli centers – Tel Aviv. Jaffa is the main resting place from the noisy bustle of the central streets, as well as a local tourist attraction. Beautiful seascapes, numerous cafes and fish restaurants, a measured lifestyle, narrow streets, architectural monuments create a unique atmosphere in this seaside suburb.

Everything here is shrouded in legends, starting from the origin of the name and ending with local attractions. There are several versions of where the word “Jaffa” came from. According to one of them, the name is derived from the name of the son of Noah, Japhet. The ancient Greek tradition connects the origin of the word with Cassiopeia, the mother of Andromeda. The most probable is the version of borrowing from the Hebrew language, in translation from which the name of the city means “beautiful”. And here, at every step, urban legends and superstitions: if you touch your zodiac sign on the Jaffa bridge of desires and then look into the distance, then the desire will certainly come true.

How to get there

There are two ways to get from the center of Tel Aviv to Jaffa. The first one is on foot (the distance is about 2.5 km, the road runs along the coast). The second is a taxi or a bus. A taxi to Jaffa will cost about 30-50 USD, you need to check whether the driver turned on the meter.

It is most convenient to get to Jaffa by bus either from the HaHagana railway station or from the central bus station of Tahana Merkazit, located a short walk from the station. Bus number 46 will take you to one of the suburban streets. The fare is 20 ILS. You can also take minibus number 16 to the embankment and then walk a little. Minibuses depart from the same point as the buses. The most convenient way to get back is to the Arlozorov bus station.

How to navigate in the city

Jaffa consists of two parts: Old and New. Old Jaffa is of the greatest interest to travelers, since it is here that the main attractions, galleries, small shops, etc. are concentrated. This is the western part of Yefet Street, which is located on a hill and offers a beautiful view of the sea. New Jaffa is located on the eastern side of Yephet Street. You can travel by bus, but most likely you will only need public transport to get to the suburbs.

For a long time, Old Jaffa has been a favorite place for many artists, and numerous sculptures on the streets confirm this. The most famous is the soaring orange tree, planted in a pot in the form of a clay egg and attached with cables to neighboring houses in such a way that it seems to be hanging in the air.

History and culture

The first mention of Jaffa can be found in written sources that existed even before our era. So, the city appears in the chronicles of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III; it is believed that Noah built his ark somewhere here. According to legend, it was through this port that the wise King Solomon arranged the supply of Libyan cedar for the construction of the future First Temple – the only place allowed at that time for the prayers of the faithful Jews. For a long time the main rulers in the city were the Romans, then they were replaced by the Egyptians, including the famous Cleopatra, the Arabs and even Richard the Lionheart. At one time, Napoleon also visited here.

In addition to the Old and New Testaments, Jaffa is also associated with ancient Greek literature. According to legend, there is a rock on the territory of the city, to which Andromeda was chained, later freed by Perseus.

Endless wars and a string of conquerors of various stripes have left little of the historical heritage, but what has been preserved is doubly valuable today. Initially, Tel Aviv was a suburb of Jaffa, but over time, the periphery became the center, and the two administrative units united in 1949 became one

Cuisine and restaurants

Fish restaurants are one of the local attractions. Also must-visit are local establishments (humusia), where they serve a snack called hummus with different ingredients and bread tortillas. Hummus is a kind of mashed chickpeas. Its various types, including the warm masbaha version, are in constant demand not only within Jaffa, but throughout Israel. Jars of hummus can be bought at any supermarket, and it is a must-serve in every cafe.

Prices in Jaffa are slightly higher than the average for Tel Aviv. As for catering establishments, in Jaffa there is a gastronomic international (as, indeed, in Tel Aviv as a whole). There are many oriental restaurants here, in particular, pay attention to Haj Kahil, where there is a huge selection of kebabs at suspiciously low prices for this quarter. But there is no catch here: a kebab will cost about 50 ILS, and a set of salads – 30 ILS. Another worthy place is the Greek restaurant “Kalamata”, located in an old stone building, which offers a gorgeous view of the port, serves excellent souvlaki and ceviche, and in the evenings Greek music plays here and everyone dances.

Of the budget establishments, there are several falafel and sausage shops, the Charcotrie sausage shop is especially popular at the flea market, where there are not only sausages, but also different types of pasta.

Shopping and stores

The flea market in Jaffa will be of interest not only to those who want to buy antiques, traditional Arab cotton clothes and other goods for little money, but also to those who want to get acquainted with the local leisurely life, full of bright colors. The market is located on two streets. Here you can also find numerous souvenir shops and second-hand shops.

Entertainment and attractions

Among the local attractions, we should highlight the Clock Tower, built at the beginning of the 20th century, the remains of the fortress wall created during the period when Jaffa was captured by the Turks, Kdumim Square, in the center of which excavations are underway, the Andromeda rocks, the stones to which, according to legend, the heroine was chained myth, numerous churches and mosques, the street of signs of the zodiac and the bridge of desires.

Jaffa, Israel