Jaffa, an ancient city which dates back to biblical times. It is a true melting pot culturally, ethnically and religiously. Jews, Muslims and Christians live here together. Breathe the same closely-packed air and call Jaffa home.
The specific vibe and constant buzz are a result of this unique mix. For years left to decay. It went and is still going through a huge renovation. It has been restored into a beautiful site. Jam-packed with historic treasures, exclusive mansions, chic boutiques, respected art galleries and numerous cultural centres. The change is salient, and every year I’m more and more impressed with this makeover.
I like to come here. The constant state of flow is omnipresent. People puffing nargiles while playing backgammon. Grabbing an orange juice on the corner and bargaining about the coffee price. There is no flux. It’s quiet difficult to explain. A constant move minus the rush. It’s perfect to spend a sunny day out of Tel Aviv.
Undoubtedly the best way to enter Jaffa is by walking down the beach promenade from Tel Aviv. Start from Mahmoudiya Mosque and walk a bit uphill to St. Peter’s Church. Where Napoleon is believed to have spent a night while his residence in Jaffa, the church, operated as a hostel.
Then stroll down the Wishing Bridge, past Ramses Gate, the main plaza and Old Jaffa’s quaint streets filled with art galleries, workshops, jewellery shops, extraordinary museum and the gallery of Ilana Goor.
Leave the Flea Market and Bazaar for a dessert after lunch in Jaffa Port. The harbour is not really operating nowadays but between the century-old buildings one can find some real culinary gems. And there is no better place in all of Israel to have hummus. Abu Hasan is a place one needs to look for.
The Flea Market is a key attraction. The most vibrant and buzzing area is filled with merchant shops, vintage clothes, furniture and all kinds of antiques sellers. This is as authentic as it gets. The Arabic rugs, old and new handmade jewellery and finely crafted hookahs can be bought here.
This time I noticed more and more fancy boutiques with clothes and bags of young designers which do not have ‘marche aux puces’ prices anymore. Finish at the Clock Tower, the biggest landmark in the city which survived the test of time better than others and keeps on going.
More picturesque than ever. With its romantic paths and gardens. With the sound of sun-drenched waves. Immersing lighting effects at night. All kinds of creative people who turn the streets into a maze of discovery. All this serves to excite and arouse the senses and the soul and will not leave one indifferent. I could easily spend a week here eating good seafood, playing backgammon in the market and watching life passing by while feeling hundreds of miles away from central Tel Aviv.
More about top restaurants, art galleries, markets and best hummus places in Jaffa You will find in my new Tel Aviv Guide. If you are fine dining, cocktails and sun lover you will love this guide.