Jaffa, Tel Aviv

Location: in the middle of Old Jaffa at the top of Tel Jaffa (40m above sea level) in the middle of the “Gan Ha Pisga Garden, or Peak Garden, there is a spectacular observation point for the whole Tel Aviv coastline, the southern neighborhoods of the city of Tel Aviv and of Jaffa.  

View to the North along the Mediterranean coastline: Photo

  • On the horizon – the city airport Sde Dov (active – international and domestic flights)
  • To the right – (Ramat Aviv) – the wealthiest district of Tel Aviv and one of the wealthiest in entire Israel
  • Tel Aviv Port (not working anymore) – today a popular place for shopping and recreation 
  • Along the beach line – the Tel Aviv hotels 
  • Neve Tzedek, the first Tel Aviv neighborhood established in 1886 for new immigrants outside Jaffa and “Ha Tachana” Complex – The First Train Station, a historical site that has been turned into a recreational one

View to the East: 

  • The main metropolitan area of the city with tourist attractions and shopping areas. 
  • Southern neighborhoods of the city (less affluent yet noticeably developing) and the Carmel market.  

View to the South and towards the Sea:

  • Shuk Ha Pishpeshim (the flea market),Old Jaffa – an authentic middle-eastern open air market 
  • The Clock Tower, built in 1906 in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and the gate of the Saraya (the governor’s palace) which was built in the 1890s
  • St. Peter’s Monastery (built on top of a 13th-century Crusader castle)
  • The Zodiac alleys, a maze of restored alleys leading to the harbor
  • Old Jaffa port,  Andromeda’s rock and the Lighthouse (not in use)
  • The Jaffa Museum of Antiquities – constructed on the remains of a Crusader fortress
  • Jaffa Visitors Center (2011) multimedia presentation and ancient artifacts from the Tel.
  • Al-Bahr Mosque lit. The Sea Mosque, overlooking the harbor (first mentioned in 1675 – may be Jaffa’s oldest existing mosque.)
  • Mahmoudia Mosque was built in 1812 by Abu Nabbut, governor of Jaffa from 1810 to 1820. Outside the mosque is a water fountain (sabil) for pilgrims.
  • Nouzha Mosque on Jerusalem Boulevard is Jaffa’s main mosque today.

On the top of the Tel there is The Gate to Faith, depicting three Biblical scenes related to the promise of the Land to the Patriarchs and the “entry gate” to the Land. The scenes represent Abraham binding Isaac (Genesis 22), Jacob’s dream about the stairway to heaven (Genesis 28) and the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6).

A few facts about the city Tel Aviv – Jaffa:

  • Tel Aviv as was founded in 1909 by Jewish immigrants close to the ancient port city of Jaffa
  • It gained municipal status in 1934 
  • Tel Aviv functioned as the temporary government center of the State of Israel until it was able to move to Jerusalem in December, 1949 (most embassies have since remained in or near Tel Aviv, the notable exception being the Christian Embassy). 
  • Modern Tel Aviv and Jaffa became one municipality in 1950
  • Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel (432,892 inhabitants)
  • It is divided into 50 neighborhoods 
  • The Jewish Tel Aviv Port operated between 1936 -1965 (being closed during WW2)
  • Lydda Airport (today Ben Gurion Airport) and Sde Dov Airport opened between 1937 and 1938 – they are still operating
  • Tel Aviv’s White City (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003) houses the world’s highest concentration of International Style buildings (Bauhaus and other related modernist architectural styles).
  • Financial center, technological and high-tech hub known as the “Silicon Valley”
  • Considered to have the third-largest economy of any city in the Middle East
  • Ranked 31st on the index for places with the highest cost of living in the world
  • Receives over a million international visitors every year

The importance of Jaffa, ancient and modern:

  • The most famous export is the Jaffa orange or Shamouti.  The orange tree is the symbol of Jaffa.  Another chief export is olive oil soap which is very important in this region, as neither Jews nor Muslims can use pig fat.
  • Jaffa is one of the most ancient gateways to the Holy Land and most ancient ports in the world.  
  • Its importance was magnified by the fact that it is the only one on the southern Med.

Old Testament References:

  1. Joshua 19 v 46. The city is on the border of the tribe of Dan.
  2. 2 Chronicles 2 v 16.  The cedars of Lebanon are sent by King Hiram of Tyre for the construction of King David’s Palace and later for the Jewish Temple.
  3. Jonah 1 v 3.  The prophet Jonah tried to flee from here to Tarshish.
  4. Ezra 3 v 7 mentions that the cedars of Lebanon enter the land for the Second Temple.

New Testament References:

  1. Acts 9-11.  Peter was called to Jaffa from Lydda (Lod of today), having cured Ananias who was formerly a paralytic.  In Jaffa, Tabitha had died and he was called to resurrect her.

Peter stays in the home of the outcast; Simon the Tanner.

There he has the vision of the sheet with the animals and understands that he must take the gospel to the gentiles.  As such Jaffa is a very important turning point. After this Cornelius sends 3 messengers from Caesarea.  After Paul travels there, Cornelius and his household are all converted and baptized. As a Roman Centurion, his is the first gentile household to become believers.



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