prays and Tel Aviv plays'
It is difficult to believe that this energetic,
sophisticated Mediterranean city has not yet celebrated
its 1st anniversary. Born out of the sands, the modern metropolis
of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, when a small group of Jewish families
moved from the over crowded, insanitary and hostile Arab town of
Jaffa to a selected desert spot where the construction of Tel Aviv
Since then, Tel Aviv has sprung up beside the Mediterranean
coast at a dizzying speed, its 1st generation residents
are as old as the city itself. Younger generations compare their
hometown majestically to New York. The continual energy and enterprise,
the lively avenues, big squares and buzzing nightlife all excuse
this exaggerated comparison.
However, the noisy, extrovert way of life, the
miles of practical modern apartments and the warm humid climate,
with temperatures up to of 34 °C (94 °F) in the summer (when
humidity also tends to peak) and 20 °C (68 °F) in the winter,
all place Tel Aviv firmly in its East Mediterranean setting.
The original impression of many
visitors upon arrival is that Tel Aviv is brash, soulless and hedonistic.
Outlying areas on the approach roads in particular seem tacky and
drab, however, those who are willing to explore further than their
1st impressions cannot fail to be moved by the idealism that has
created this largest Jewish city ever to exist. In a short time,
Tel Aviv has absorbed 10's of 1000's of refugees
from Asia, Europe, Africa and South America and turned them into
free citizens in their own homeland, 45,000 new immigrants have
settled here in the last year alone.
In fact, Tel Aviv is named after the Hebrew title of Theodor Herzl’s
motivating Zionist novel Altneuland (Old New Land). The Hebrew,
‘Tel Aviv’, combines the ideas of antiquitiy
(tel, an ancient site) and radiant newness (aviv, spring time).
Tel Aviv’s surprising diversity is shown in the array of distinct
neighbourhoods merging together but also in these extremes of ‘old’
and ‘new’. The elderly relaxing on the beach promenade
and talking in a variety of languages, next to the younger generation
shouting in Hebrew and playing beach sports on the sand, the high
culture and the noisy discos, the modern shopping malls and the
packed street market.
The sheer vitality and determination of the place
makes Tel Aviv seem vastly bigger than it really is. In fact, the
city is smaller in area than Haifa or Jerusalem, but over 1 3rd
of Israel’s population live in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
For round the clock entertainment and sheer vigour,
there is nowhere in Israel like it, the city offers a great quantity
of bars, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife within walking
distance from one another.
Above all, Tel Aviv is a beach city. A large expanse
of fine sand extends more than 10 kilometres (6 miles) along the
seashore. City residents pour onto the beach for air, space and
relaxation every weekend and at any opportunity during the day.
Its wide promenade is a splendid sight and runs for miles all the
way from the port in north Tel Aviv to the old quarter of Jaffa,
which, incidentally, has ceased to be a hostile Arab town and has
become a popular waterside dining and leisure district of Tel Aviv.
With its flea market, art galleries,
antique shops and restaurants, Jaffa is a enjoyable place to stroll
and relax. Although mentioned numerous times in the Bible and developed
as Jerusalem’s principal seaport during Temple times, Jaffa
gives little sense of its long history. Only a small section of
Old Jaffa remains today, its lanes and stairways cleaned up and
renovated beyond recognition and the squalid centre replaced by
Most of Jaffa was built after Napolean’s
destructive raid in 1799. Thus, the oldest port in the world (with
all its trade long ago moved to Tel Aviv or Haifa) has become a
mere district in the most modern city in the world.
As well as having a massive amount of attractions of its own, Tel
Aviv is well placed as a base for day trips to Jerusalem and Caesarea,
while even the Dead Sea and the Galilee are within a two-hour drive
of the city.