Let us walk from the sizeable southern parking through the port, the streets of the upper city, the house of Ilana Gur, the workshop of Meisler, the soaring orange, Abrashi Park, the square of all the signs of the Zodiac, the Cathedral of St. Peter, to the port and back to the parking,
Jaffa Port is considered one of the oldest in the world. Bible has mentioned him. The history of the place called Jaffa is at least 3000 years old. So many rulers ruled Jaffa that it is not easy to say who left its influence most of all. One thing is obvious Jaffa's port has an excellent location. Via Maris - the commercial road of the ancient world passed here. Pilgrims to Jerusalem went down to the shore here. English and French army forces established naval bases here. The "Charity fees" - the food and aid to Jewish communities in the country arrived at Jaffa. Lines on the flor describes the distance from the port of Jaffa to famous cities of the world. The rays indicate the direction and distance. Sometimes, amazement mixed with a smile rises on your lips: how close they are. On holidays and weekends perform street musicians, exhibitions and events are pleasing to the eye and ear. And people want to smile at each other. But it was not always like that in the port of Jaffa. It wasn't quiet for almost all its years of existence. Captains had to pass the dangerous roks of Andromeda in the entrance to the port. At the end of the 19th century, big ships could not enter the old port of Jaffa and were moor in the open sea. Small boats loaded goods and passengers and transported them to shore. Not everything went well. For example, Theodor Herzl, the predictor of the Jewish state, turned his ankle when he got on the boat. The Russian writer Inav Bunin, who did not understand the meaning of Turkish entry certificates, received a certificate intended for a Jewish pilgrim instead of a Christian. Unfortunately, new bells brought to Israel for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem sank into the depths during the transport. After establishing the State of Israel and constructing a new modern port in Ashdod, the port in Jaffa became a marina of fishing boats and small yachts. You can visit galleries, restaurants, cafes and meet street vendors selling souvenirs and jewelry along the pier. Fishers sit on the dock, and a tiny pleasure boat leaves the port for a short cruise along the Tel Aviv coast. The fishermen return with their catch at dawn, and the famous restaurateurs in Tel Aviv send the buyers to choose the best fish. Mediterranean negotiations are developing around the fish, and everyone involved fascinates the morning mysteries of the Jaffa port - the sale of the catch before dawn.
The stairs go up to the city. It goes up the narrow street named Cancer after the zodiac. Very soon, it turns and flows to Sagittarius Street. Around the corner is the Adina Plasticine studio. It was founded in 2003 by designers Adi and Sam Leder. Today this famous brand specializes in works of silver and gold combined with mosaics of polymeric material. Designers use an ancient technique called Millefiori. This word comes from the Italian language and means "a thousand flowers." The combination of precious metals with old technology and polymeric material creates a particular style. The studio's business card is a wide range of colors alongside childish spontaneity, youth avant-garde, alongside unique technique. The studio sits in an ancient house where there is a hidden room. It is a space between old walls, which for centuries served as a waste dump. Thus, fragments of various objects were found in it. Among them are the arrowheads of the Egyptian Pharaoh, elements of Turkish pipes, rifle butts from the time of Napoleon, the Crusader jewelry, and many other things that tell the history of the Old City.
Here at the foot of the lighthouse, was an ancient house where Shimon the tanner lived according to Christian tradition. Here apostle Peter stood overnight, starting his long journey from the Holy Land to Rome. Cornelius, the Roman commander, captured Peter in Caesarea. But Cornelius converted to Christianity and his family too. Another important event in the history of Christianity happened to Peter in Jaffa. A girl named Tabitha resurrected. It happened on Peter's way from Jerusalem to Jaffa on the outskirts of the city. Lying on the roof of Simon's house, Peter saw a vision of shrouds falling from the sky with reptiles on them. Peter cried and said: Please, my Lord! Is that really what you want to feed me? And heard the answer: "What was purified by God, you will not see as scum. It was three times, and the shroud ascended to heaven again." (Acts 10,15) These events and their sequence matter. Peter is the heir of Christ. Just as Jesus, when he arrives in Jerusalem from the east, revives Lazarus, so Peter resurrects Tabata when he comes in Jaffa. As Jesus reaches the Jews in Jerusalem, Peter gets the Romans in Rome through Jaffa and Caesarea. Peter was crucified in Rome, like Jesus in Jerusalem. And if Jesus goes to the Jews, then his disciples go to the pagans - to spread Christianity. In this context, the vision of reptiles takes on special significance. Jesus came to the Jews, the chosen people. Peter goes to the Gentiles. The words: "What God has cleansed will not be seen as unclean" purify the spread of Christianity among the pagans.
The Libyan Synagogue was probably the first Jewish Synagogue built in Jaffa in modern times. The first mention of the Synagogue goes back to the middle of the 18th century. It says that the building was purchased or built by Rabbi Yaakov ben David Zonana for the "Committee of Israeli Officials and Citizens in Istanbul." At the end of the 18th century, as a result of continued economic and social desolation, the financial situation of the Jewish community in the province of Palestine in the Turkish Empire (Sanjok Jaffa) deteriorated. The Jewish community needed the help of European Jews. Since European charity came mainly to Jerusalem, the Jews of Jaffa started to leave the city and move to Jerusalem. Finally, the Jewish property in Jaffa remained unattended and local Arabs gradually took over. During the conquests and destruction that Jaffa experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries (the time Napoleonic Wars), the Jewish community in Jaffa was destroyed along with the Libyan Synagogue. In 1948, Jewish immigrants from Libya arrived in Israel for the first time and settled in Old Jaffa, which the Arab residents partially abandoned. The place turned back into the Synagogue after receiving the keys from the building's doors from a Franciscan priest who served in the nearby convent and kept the property. He told them that this house served as a synagogue for the Jewish community in Jaffa many years ago.
The Ilana Gur Museum inhabited the ancient building from the 18th century, which provided accommodation for Jewish pilgrims who came to Jerusalem. For almost forty years, Ilana Gur has lived in this house and turned it into a museum, which displays design and art objects and shows design and art as a way of life. The combination of simple and complex, rustic and urban, ancient and modern is Ilana's style, which has brought her world fame. The furniture design, the chandeliers, the interior, and the decorations create the house as a concept, not only as a dwelling. The idea is the Ilana Gur Museum. The house is the sense of space and creation. All the rooms in the house are stylish, such as the Greek monks' table room, the African collection room, the open sea view balcony, and so else.
Oded Halachmi was born in Iraq in 1938. At the age of 13, Oded's family immigrated to Israel and experienced the plight of new immigrants. In the early 1950s, Israel faced severe problems. The isolation of the young state deepened its difficult economic situation. The government had to solve some of the complex issues at once. The ministries were committed to maintaining security, absorbing about one million Jewish refugees from Arab countries, developing the economy, and emerging from political and social isolation. Young talents did not often find the right frameworks. The subject of culture and art was perceived as a luxury that only the rich could afford. When Oded reached the age of 28, he entered the London School of Art, and after graduating, settled in Toronto and later in New York. Oded became famous thanks to a statue of a female figure - the one you can see in the window. The primary material Oded works with is copper. The sculpture lives in New York and Jaffa. Oded has established an international fund to support young talent and art development.
Among the countless stories associated with this tree, there is one that I want to tell here. The story does not claim to be the only true nor the absolute truth. It only conveys the spirit of the place. One day a hanging tree appeared in Old Jaffa. Many have begun to think and wonder what this means? Those artists sometimes come up with something imaginable that no one can understand. Some used to say it is a symbol of freedom. Some tell children that the first immigrants faced many difficulties and grew oranges on sand and stones. And some say it is just a houseplant that was not absorbed in the shaving house of darkness and had to be planted outside hanging between dwellings. After all the tellers calmed down, they started talking about the hanging tree symbolizing the long and challenging relationship between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. One of the residents of the artists' quarter decided to plant a fruit tree - orange. Municipal authorities suddenly recalled the Turkish law for the taxation of fruit trees. An innocent desire of a Jaffa resident to grow a fruit tree is met with arbitrariness by the authorities. What to do? It is effortless to plant the tree not on municipal land but in the air.
Frank Meisler, a native of Danzig, was educated in England and lived in this ancient house in Jaffa's artists' quarter. Meisler's sculptures are known worldwide for the artist's unique vision of the place and space, the preservation of the realistic perception of things, and the unexpected humor. The world fame brought Frank his work known as the "Globe of Jerusalem." The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed the "Iron Lady," received the "Globe of Jerusalem" as a gift. The complexity of the holy city for the three religions reflects in Meisler's work that one city symbolizes an entire globe. The permanent exhibitions of the artist's works are in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Kyiv.
Meisler's works can be seen in Los Angeles, Miami, London, Berlin, Moscow, Kyiv, and Gdansk. Frank Meisler is known for his street monuments in London, Berlin, and Gdansk. In 2015, Frank Meisler worked on a statue, which was to be displayed on one of the main streets of Rotterdam. Frank Meisler has received many international awards and has been loved by the public, thanks to the humor and philosophy of his works. Unfortunately, he passed away in March 2018, leaving a series of works dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust placed on the streets of many European cities. Admittedly many remained imperfect, like the monument in Rotterdam. In Russia, Meisler is known for his monument to Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill, installed in Sochi.
In 1936, the largest Arab uprising broke out in the country. The Arabs were furious at the issuance of entry visas to Jews fleeing Nazis to Mandatory Palestine. The support of the English authorities in connection with the emigration of the Jews diminished. The British reduced the issuance of visas. Despite this, unrest among the Arabs gained momentum, and they boycotted the port of Jaffa. The British very quickly built an alternative port in north Tel Aviv. This tension developed into the great Arab uprising brutally suppressed by the British authorities with the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Regular soldiers' companies entered Jaffa. The operation was called "Anchor". The part of the city was depopulated, and buildings were demolished in 1939. After the War of Independence of 1948 and after the absorption of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, plans were made to redevelop ruined Jaffa, which became slums and brothels. In parallel with the preparations for rehabilitation and renovation, excavations were conducted. Archaeologists chose this excavation area on the hillside in the centre of the city for a reason. In the bronze age, people always build towns in a high place near essential trade routes and near water sources. All these conditions existed in old Jaffa, and only after almost five centuries, the city "descended" to the sea when a maritime trade relationship developed. Therefore, excavations at the top of the slope can reveal the ancient history of the city. The excavations confirmed many biblical stories. Researchers found the city gates date from the time of Pharaoh Ramesses II. He was one of the legendary Egyptian pharaohs. During the reign of Ramesses II, the first peace treaty in human history was signed. It was a peace treaty with the Hittite kingdom. During the reign of Ramesses II, the construction of the famous temples in Luxor began, and the coastal plain of Canaan (modern Israeli shores) became a series of important trading cities of the ancient world, including Old Jaffa.
The park on one of the highest points in Old Jaffa is the most beautiful and friendly place. From here, there is a lovely view of Tel Aviv beach, St. Peter's Church, Andromeda rocks and the pointed spire of the bell tower of St. Tabitha Church. There seems to be no one who missed taking a picture of this place.
There is a remarkable story in Jaffa related to the zodiac. The streets of the city are named in the figures of the zodiac. Pictures of the zodiac are in mosaics and are painted on the houses. In the centre of Jaffa is a bridge over a moat, with symbols of the twelve signs of the zodiac. There is a belief that touching your lucky sign on the bridge while making the wish will undoubtedly lead to its fulfilment. The place is full of mystery and riddles, like the whole city of Jaffa. Couples in love come here to ask for a wish and wonder whether to say goodbye for a moment so that each one will reach their sign of good fortune.
We descend to the main square called Kedumim Square. On the way, you can once again admire the view.
In the main square of the Old City, called Kedumim Square, is an underground archaeological museum. It is dedicated to the long history of Jaffa, displaying archaeological finds, art paintings and other works. The beautiful video is projected on the entrance hall walls, which tells the history of the city from its beginnings throughout its 5,000 years of existence. In addition, the museum holds temporary exhibitions, lectures and seminars. The research work continues, and the museum fills its collection with new finds and unique antiquities.
The modern church was built on the foundations of the church from the Byzantine period and the remains of buildings from the Crusader period. The Byzantine church was destroyed during the Persian invasion in 614 AD and was partially restored at the end of Byzantine rule in the Holy Land. German King Frederick II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, built a large fortress on the ruins of the Byzantine church, which was destroyed by the Muslims and rebuilt during the Seventh Crusade by French King Louis IX. The fort, church and monastery were ruined in 1264 AD by the Mamluks. But one of the semi-circular towers was preserved and used to construct the modern church by the Franciscan monks in 1654.
Franciscans built the church and a large inn, which almost all European pilgrims used to the Holy Land in the 17th and 18th centuries. Napoleon and many military officers and scientists who joined his journey to the Holy Land camped at the inn in 1799. After Napoleon's campaign, the church and inn were demolished and rebuilt several times until the modern Baroque building opened its doors in 1894 with the support and financial contribution of the Spanish monarchy. In 1903, the compound was expanded, and the church became the cathedral of the Catholic community in Jaffa. The contemporary look was given to the place in 1932.
The Monastery of St. Michael is almost the only monastery in Jaffa, where the Romanian Church and the Russian Orthodox Church built unique relations. After the devastating fire in 1994, the Romanian congregation renovated the Church. The iconography of its interior strongly compensates for the external modesty. In the Holy Land, it is customary to sanctify St. George. Not far from Jaffa lies the ancient city of Lida (Lod) - a town that Georgios was born. Despite this, the Church in Jaffa is dedicated to Archangel Michael. Why? The angels Gabriel and Michael are God's messengers and are mentioned in various scenes from the Gospel. The Romanian Church, which has almost no congregations in the Holy Land, except in Jaffa, strengthens its value and reinforces it by dedicating the monastery church to Archangel Michael. The Greek Orthodox community also existed in Jaffa. Many lands outside the city belonged to her—for example, a church and monastery of St. Tabitha. The much-weakened Greek community in the late 19th century handed over its lands to the Russian Church. Thus, it received protection and sponsorship from the Russian Church, in contrast to the Romanian Church, maintaining its independence. The Greek, Romanian and Russian communities are all from the Orthodox stream of Christians. The excellent relationship between the Romanian Church inside the city and the Greek Church outside the town - is an almost isolated example in the delicate fabric of the Mediterranean reality of Jaffa.
Jaffa, Jaffa ... your old stones, blue sky, and vast sea resonate in your stories and legends. If not here, then where will inspiration meet artists? Well, look at what old photos can evoke.
The "Please Touch" centre received the laconic description from the New York Times: "A simple, universal message from the stage, conveys thought and heart with immense power." "Please Touch" has shaped itself as one of the most innovative theatres in the world. For many years the centre was a leader in the cultural world of the country. "Please Touch" is a unique centre of culture and art, designed to meet the sight and hearing of the deaf and blind. The space where there is an equal dialogue between people, whether deaf or blind or hearing and seeing, makes it possible to understand and feel the needs and aspirations of all involved in the communication process. Independent communication indicates that blindness or deafness does not lower the value of equality, and empathy and openness allow people to contribute equally to society. The "Please Touch" centre is a stage to socialize in theatre in the dark, a blackout restaurant, a Kafish events complex and a seminar centre. The centre is an innovative model for the integration of people with disabilities in society. More than 800,000 people have visited the centre since it opened in late 2007. Unfortunately, the year of the COVID-19 severely affected the centre's activities.
In British times, the fight against smuggling in the port was simple. At the entrance to the port, weigh the truck. Also, at the exit weighed the truck. Knowing the initial weight of the shipment or cargo, they clearly understood whether there was smuggling or not. The weight was remarkably accurate. He can "catch" a few pounds. Today, weight can be an excellent attraction for groups with a total weight of at least 100 kilograms. It is recommended to put the group on the weight before starting the walk in the city and then at the end of the walk. Any group will lose a few pounds after a few hours of walking.
The southern concrete promenade attracts many hikers. The concrete is massive and durable. And the sea is endless and furious. The waves breaking on the breakwater inadvertently, cunningly, break the stone. This struggle has been going on in Jaffa for almost three thousand years. And children have always been and will always be ready to get completely wet, to taste the power of the water, to feel the stubbornness of the stone and to wade in the puddles of momentary rest between the cycles of the fierce struggle of nature, to touch the tip of the universe.