The Slope Park
The Slope Park is the first park of Old Jaffa. The park was planned 40 years ago by Avraham Carvan Z"L, who was the manager of the Planting Department in the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa Municipality. The park is located entirely on the structures and foundations of destroyed houses. The park's area is about an acre and a half, and it occupies the area between the Shlomo Bay Promenade and the Second Aliyah Pier. The park offers a dazzling view of Tel-Aviv's shoreline, the promenade and hotels located along the beach, and the Second Aliyah Pier, where fishermen often stand until late at night.
At the upper edge of the park sits St. Peter's Church (whose front faces Kdumim Square), that is home to the Vatican's Embassy. Cast iron shore batteries, which were discovered in excavations of the Jaffa Harbor, are placed at the upper entrance of the park, evidence of Jaffa's capture by Napoleon and his army in 1799.
The Libyan Synagogue (Khan Zunana)
2 Pisces Alley, Old Jaffa.
The Libyan Synagogue was most likely the first Jewish synagogue constructed in Jaffa in the Modern Era.
The synagogue is first mentioned at the end of the first half of the 18th century, and it is said it was purchased or constructed by Rabbi Yaakov Ben David Zunana, for "The Committee of Israeli Officials and Lords in Istanbul" to serve as a Khan (public hostel), with a synagogue and mikveh (ritual bath) for Jewish pilgrims who arrived in Israel via Jaffa harbor, and were primarily headed to Jerusalem and the other holy cities. At the end of the 18th century, as a result of the aggravating conditions for the Jews in Jaffa and a diminution in the number of pilgrims, the Arabs appropriated the hostel from its Jewish owners and allowed pilgrims to use it only three days during the year. During the waves of conquest and destruction that visited Jaffa during the 18th and 19th century, the Jewish community in Jaffa disappeared together with the traces of the Jewish Khan.
In 1948, the first Libyan immigrants arrived to settle in Old Jaffa, which was abandoned by its Arab residents. They set this place to be their synagogue after receiving the key to it from a Franciscan Priest of the nearby St. Peter Abbey, who told them that the place many years ago served as the home of a Jewish synagogue. It was discovered that the building served for many years as a soap factory, but was known among the Arabs as "the Jewish House". This is another, indirect piece of evidence that this building is Khan Zunana.
St. Peter's Church
This Catholic Church sits at the top of the Jaffa Mound, at a strategic spot, and has served as a Christian center for thousands of years. Underneath the church and to its side are the remnants of a crusader fort, underneath which a Byzantine church is buried. The fort was part of the city citadel during the reign of Louis IX, king of France. In the church courtyard stands the statue of Louis IX, who was canonized in Christian tradition for his part in the crusades.
According to accepted history, the church also hosted the French general Napoleon when he stayed in Jaffa during his campaign in Israel in 1799.
The church is very large and is noted for its splendor. It was constructed in the beginning of the 20th century in the Baroque style, with a long nave and a vaulted ceiling. As opposed to most churches which face east, St. Peter's faces west, towards the sea, where Peter's famous dream took place, and towards Rome, where he was sent later.
The walls of the church are decorated with oil paintings depicting the Fourteen Stations of the Cross and St. George fighting the dragon. Over the altar is a depiction of Peter's visitation in a dream by the angel Michael.
The Clock Tower
The clock tower was built in 1901 in the center of Jaffa's town square.
The clock tower in Jaffa is one of seven clock towers built in Israel and of the hundred clock towers built in the Ottoman Empire in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the reign of the Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid the Second. The towers were built as part of the modern reforms guided by the sultan, in order to conduct the empire's cities by accurate, Western timetables.
According to the local tale, the tower was built at the initiative of Yossef Moial, a wealthy Jew of Jaffa, who erected the clock tower in order to save himself pestering by pedestrians who would come in to his shop to ask the time on their way to the train station.
Four clocks were installed in the tower – two of them showing the time in Europe, and two of them the time in Israel.
The Soap Factory Compound (Assarayah al Atiqa)
This large structure is comprised of a number of historical structures and was erected on the remnants of a structure from the crusader era. It was built in its current formation in the 18th century and served as the seat of the Ottoman governor. The structure was called Assarayah al Atiqa, and served also as a post office and guard house until the construction of the new governor's house in the clock tower square. In 1733 part of the building was purchased by the Demiani family, an old and famous Christian family of Jaffa, and converted by them to be used as a soap factory that had great success. The structure was abandoned during the War of Independence, after which the Jaffa Museum of Antiquities was established in it. In another part of the structure the Arab-Hebrew Theater functions, and its western section is closed and unused.
Home of Simon the Tanner
According to ancient Christian traditions, this structure is the home of Simon the Tanner, a site sacred to Christianity.
According to tradition, Simon the Tanner (leatherworker) hosted here Peter, Jesus' Apostle, during his travels in the Land of Israel.
The New Testament says that Peter performed a miracle in Jaffa – the resurrection of Tabitha, a woman known for her virtue, with the words "Tabitha, rise" (Acts 9). This miracle greatly increased the number of regional adherents to the newly-founded Christianity. Tabitha is still considered a saint representing charity and aid to others. During his stay at the home of Simon the Tanner, Peter dreamt a dream where he saw clean and unclean animals together. A heavenly voice told him to eat of the animals, and when he refused to eat unclean animals, the voice told him: “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Peter interpreted the dream as divine sanction to spread Christianity not only among Jews but also among the pagan Romans, and he agreed to convert Cornelius, a Roman centurion in Caesarea. This marked a historical turning point in the process of transforming Christianity into a universal religion. The house is owned by the Armenian Zakkarian family for a number of generations, and is closed to visitors.
On the roof of the house, the British mandate constructed a lighthouse serving the ships entering the Jaffa Harbor. Near the lighthouse is a small mosque, Jama al Bodrus (Peter's Mosque), constructed in 1730, as well as a guardhouse nearby meant to defend the city against attacks from the sea.
The Mahmoudia Mosque is the largest mosque in Jaffa, and bears the name of its founder, Jaffa's governor, Muhammad Abu Nabbut..
The Mosque was rebuilt over the foundations of an earlier mosque in the years 1812-1814. The mosque structures are arranged around three inner courtyards. The mosque was decorated with ancient marble pillars brought to Jaffa from Caesarea and Ashkelon, and placed in the mosque upside down with their heads to the ground, which created an inner courtyard surrounded by a harborico of pillars with arches between them.
The large courtyard leads to the mosque structures including the hexagonal minaret and the large prayer hall. The main entrance to the mosque is from its southern side, above which is a plaque noting the year 1227 of the Hijra (1812). Other gates lead to the mosque compound – one leads to the old Sarayah house and the other to the Clock Square. This gate is known as the “Ruler’s Gate”, as it is the one through which the rulers of the city entered the mosque from the new Sarayah house across the road. This is the grandest gate, and it includes byzantine elements incorporated in it and Ottoman decorative elements of the empire’s symbol – the star and the crescent.
In the southern wall of the mosque is installed Sabil Suleiman, whose shape is a large arc that incorporates white marble stones and pink granite. The sabil is named after Suleiman Pasha, ruler of Acre and the commander of Abu Nabbut.
Jerusalem Gate (Abu Nabbut Gate)
Abu Nabbut (“Father of the Club”, after the club he used to carry and strike his opponents with) was the ruler of Jaffa in the beginning of the 19th century. Abu Nabbut reconstructed Jaffa from its ruined state and during his governorship the city enjoyed strong and stable rule. He excelled especially in large scale building projects: He reconstructed and erected many public buildings, reconstructed the city walls, the harbor, and the markets. Abu Nabbut erected a new main gate in the eastern wall and sealed the rest of the gates, and thus regulated into entry to the city and improved the safety of its residents. The new gate was noted for its magnificent shape – it had two separate arches with three small domes atop them.
At the gate was a strong guard post equipped with cannons, and here all entrants to the fortified city were examined. The gate was also known as the Jerusalem Gate, as departing from it were the main roads leading to the Jerusalem. Outside the gate and around it were the city markets. The gate can be found at the southern edge of HaTsorfim Street.
“The Armenian Courtyard” (St. Nicholas’ Abbey)
The Armenian Courtyard is one of the oldest structures in Jaffa. The abbey is built in the location where, according to Armenian tradition, stood the home of Simon the Tanner, in Netiv HaMazalot Alley, west of St. Peter’s Church.
The abbey and hostel stand on ancient remains and were expanded in 1663 by the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. In 1799, following Napoleon’s capture of Jaffa, plague spread among his soldiers, and those afflicted were quarantined in the Armenian Courtyard, which became a hospital. According to the tale, Napoleon even came to visit his soldiers.
Nowadays, the abbey is used by the small Armenian community that still remains in Jaffa.
The Wishing Bridge
An ancient legend states that anyone who stands on the bridge, grasps the relief of their astrological sign and gazes at the sea –will have his wish come true!
Stationed on top of the rail of the famous wooden bridge connecting Peak Park with Kdumim Square are bronze statues of the twelve astrological signs. At the entrance to the bridge is a stone mosaic of the zodiac.
The statues along the bridge were sculpted by Esther Shlomo and Freddy Fabian, and the mosaic was created by Varda Ghivoly and Ilan Gelber, all residents of Old Jaffa.
Greek mythology tells of the King of Jaffa – Cepheus, and his daughter Andromeda, who was reknowned for her great beauty. His wife, queen Cassiopeia, boasted that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the mermaids, provoking the ire of the latter, and causing them to appeal to Poseidon, God of the Sea, to punish the haughty humans. Poseidon agreed, and sent a deluge of water and a sea monster to destroy the lands of the Philistines and Jaffa.
King Cepheus, after consulting with the oracle and under pressure by Jaffa’s residents, decided to sacrifice his daughter Andromeda to the monster, with the hope of appeasing Poseidon’s wrath. Beautiful Andromeda was tied to the rocks on the shore of Jaffa and left there.
Perseus, son of Zeus, chief of the Gods, was passing through, saw Andromeda and fell in love with her. The king and queen promised him their daughter as a wife should he be able to rescue her from the monster – which he did. Perseus chopped off the head of the monster, which fell into the water, and became the famous sea rocks of Jaffa.
The Gate of Faith:
A large statue, made of Galilee stone, was sculpted by the sculptor Daniel Kafri of Jerusalem between the years 1973-1975. The statue stands at the top of the Peak Park in Old Jaffa.
The statue, of two 4 meter tall pillars upon which rests a stone, also 4 meters in length, resembles a gate. The sculpted gate is the gate of entry to the Land of Israel, and represents the promise of the land to the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
On the two pillars appear the three Patriarchs – who received the promise – and the top stone signifies the beginning of that promise's realization via the capture of Jericho and the Land of Israel by Joshua.
The first pillar recounts the tale of the binding of Isaac. This is an extraordinary portrayal of the binding – Abraham is seen kneeling on the ram, and holding up his son Isaac. Isaac lies with his face, resembling Abraham’s, turned upward.
The second pillar depicts Jacob’s dream, where the land was promised to his offspring. Jacob rests on the land and the stone is under his head. Above him are two angels, one ascending and one descending, facing opposite directions, and the rhythm of the wings creates an association with a ladder.
The top beam represents the realization and depicts the capture of Jericho. The priests surround the city of Jericho, holding horns and are seen carrying the Ark of the Covenant.
The Sea Walls Promenade:
The Sea Walls Promenade links the Charles Clore Park and the Jaffa Harbor along the Second Aliyah Pier and was built in 2001.
The reconstruction and renovation process of Jaffa’s sea wall began in an archeological excavation where the Ottoman wall that surrounded Old Jaffa was discovered. The renovation works included partial reconstruction of the historical wall, building a sea wall to serve as a rail for the promenade and a break wall against the high waves during the winter. The promenade paving was done in both natural stone and industrially processed stone. The sea wall is made of eolianite and is similar in shape to a wall with firing slits. Along the promenade the stones of the original wall are marked, and spots were erected that explain the site's history, complete with maps. The wall is designed in the shape of the original wall facilitating continued fishing by fishermen equipped with poles, as has been practiced for many years. The slits in the wall also serve to drain the seawater that rise and flood the promenade during the winter storms. In …., the outline of the sea wall was illuminated as part of a project outlining Jaffa’s shape in light. The lighting emphasizes Old Jaffa’s famous shape as seen from the promenade and hotels along the shore.
The Sea Mosque (Jama al Bahr)
A small mosque located in the northern side of the Slope Park, on the Sea Wall Promenade. The mosque is built of eolianite, and at its southwest corner is a minaret with a veranda for the muezzin. A Dutch painting of 1675 depicts a mosque reminiscent of the Sea Mosque, but the exact construction date of the structure is unknown. Muslim sailors would pray in this mosque before departing. The mosque was renovated in 1997, and is not open to visitors.
The Zodiac Fountain was made by the sculptors Varda Ghivoly and Ilan Gelber in 2011. The fountain, located in Kdumim Square, bears chalkstone sculptures of the twelve zodiacs in fascinating, original designs.
The fountain combines effects of water, lighting, and stonework, and completes the representation of the twelve zodiacs in Old Jaffa. The zodiacs also appear in the street names of Old Jaffa and the Wishing Bridge connecting Jaffa Hill with Kdumim Square.
As part of the digging work for the fountain, the Antiquities Authority conducted a salvage excavation at the site. The dig was managed by Mr. Diego Barkan of the Anitquities Authority. The dig exposed architectural elements of the Ottoman period, including remnants of structures, walls and floors, and a tiled yard containing a water reservoir, and constructed, roofed aqueducts.
The findings found under the fountain corroborate an old legend mentioning the existence of a magical wishing well located in this very place. Anyone who tosses a coin in it and makes a wish has his wish fulfilled on the spot.
Here you can find a short video about Old Jaffa