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Old Jaffa : The New Scene

Picturesque alleys, unique galleries, the renovated visitors center, a dramatic square and trendy restaurants make the city grown from the sea a starting point for every visit and recreation in the city

Old Jaffa : The New Scene (Enlarge)

Old Jaffa is an architectural and artistic gem offering the prospects of an endless good time: it is fun to explore old Jaffa on foot, roam the alleys, peek into the galleries and studios, delight in the restaurants and enjoy the greatest sense of freedom ever.

The way to the Ramses Gate, a remnant of Egyptian Jaffa of 4000 years ago, is adorned with brides and grooms, for nothing surpasses Jaffa’s romanticism for a timeless image. Couples visit the Wishing Bridge and Zodiac Fountain, holding hands and whispering a prayer towards the deep blue. Children frolic amongst the houses, making the connection between contemporary reality and the history they discovered in the renovated visitors center, which provides a multi-sensory experience while exposing the underground layers of Tel Jaffa. In Kdumim Square, facing a magical spot of blue shutters and bright red geraniums next to a grand church, a new information center is in operation. Alongside the center are shops and stalls restoring the scents of Jaffa back to their rightful place.

Nothing beats Jaffa at night: as the sun sets, the see the night people who are redefining the nighttime scene in Jaffa congregate around the restaurants and cafes.

For 6000 years, Jaffa has served as the maritime gateway  of Israel and Jerusalem, and its name has been tied to many legends: from Andromeda, to Jonah the Prophet, to the Wishing Bridge. It has been ruled by Egyptians, Philistines, the Tribe of Dan, Sanherib, Alexander the Great, the Hasmoneans, the Romans, Napoleon, Muslims, Crusaders and Ottoman Turks. Ancient Christianity made it an important pilgrimage site due to the home of Simon the Tanner, where according to tradition Peter drew the inspiration to transform Christianity into a universal religion.

Like the phoenix, Jaffa has known how to reinvent herself each time: facing historical Andromeda’s Rock, the chefs of the picturesque square concoct the latest in cosmopolitan culinary delights, while drawing upon their Middle Eastern roots. From Kalamata to Abrage, from Casa Nova to Yamit, from Nir Zuk’s Napoleon Patisserie to the Museum-Café of Yemenite Art, the trend of boutique restaurants opening in Old Jaffa over the last year is only gaining impetus. Soon we have the forthcoming opening of a stylish bistro run restaurateur Yair Baker. There can be no doubt that the scene is here to stay.

The alleys are home to over 50 trendy galleries, studios and  design shops, such as Elemento and Adina Plastelina, who skillfully transformed the workshop into an attraction, thanks to the structure or archeological discoveries made there. Well established galleries such as the Ilana Goor Museum, Horace Richter, Frank Meisler, Varda Carmeli, Ben-Zion David, as well as new galleries such the Gallery of Original Ethiopian Art, the Bauhaus Center and the Aharon Farkash Poster Collection Gallery are a lodestone summoning art lovers countrywide.

Together with the museums and the galleries, the populace is also rejuvenating itself. Old Jaffa continues to be a one-of-a-kind artist colony, where many young artists and creators such as Gil Shohat, Ayal Shifron and Hagar Rahavi, live alongside established artists such as the sculptors Varda Ghivoly and Ilan Gelber, curators Etti and Freddie Fabian, and jewelry makers Rahel Gra and Gabi Marbach.

The multi-sensory “Images of Jaffa” visitors center has tours adapted for the entire family in seven languages: Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, French, and German. Opening hours: Sun-Thu and Saturday 9:00-20:00, Friday 9:00-15:00 (Groups may coordinate visits in other hours). Admission: 15-30 ILS.

Reservation Center: 03-6037700, 03-6037686, travel@oldjaffa.co.il, tourism@oldjaffa.co.il
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