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About city Gallery Where to stay

Tel Aviv is the polar opposite of another famous Israeli city - Jerusalem. The name 'Tel Aviv' means 'a spring hill'. The city originated as a suburb of the ancient port city Jaffa and later became a real tourist attraction – visitors appreciate its wonderful beaches, fun and energetic nightlife, and well-developed service sector. It’s worth noting that even though most people associate the name 'Tel Aviv' with the capital of Israel, local Jews still hold that Jerusalem is the true capital.

Today, Tel Aviv is the cultural and economic centre of the country. It’s home to most periodicals and publishing houses, famous international music concerts and festivals, the luxurious Israeli Opera House and many art studios. It is also known for its gardens and parks, the largest of which is the Ganei Yehoshua Park.

View of Tel Aviv at Sunset
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  View of Tel Aviv at Sunset

The city, situated just 60 kilometres north-west of Jerusalem on a Mediterranean plain, exists on a juncture of Europe, Asia and Africa. Tel Aviv is now Israel’s largest port city, metropolitan area (or the Gush Dan) and finance and trade centre. It’s also home to around 400,000 people (or 3.8 million with suburbs), 96.1 per cent of whom are Jewish, and about 50,000 illegal foreign workers who have taken up temporary residence here.

The territory of Jaffa has been inhabited for 4,000 years and conquered by Egyptians, Persians and Greeks. In 68 BC, it was destroyed by the Romans and occupied by the Teutonic Knights in 1126 and 1191, and ultimately fell into the hands of Arabs. In 1909, Tel Aviv was born as a suburb of Jaffa. According to legend, Jaffa occupies the same space it did before the Great Flood and is the city Noah chose for building his ark.

Due to an influx of Jews from the Nazi-occupied Germany, the period between 1931 and 1936 was marked by rapid growth. In 1948, Jewish people took over Jaffa, which was mostly inhabited by Arabs at the time. Tel Aviv became the temporary capital of the new state of Israel, and was constantly bombarded by the Egyptian Air Force. In 1949, the capital was moved to Jerusalem, while Tel Aviv and Jaffa were joined into one municipality. The city continued to gain in Jewish population, coming from all around the world, especially from Europe.

A group of turists near the Mediterranean beach and Tel Aviv, Israel boradwalk with the city sky line and towers in the background
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A group of turists near the Mediterranean beach and Tel Aviv, Israel boradwalk with the city sky line and towers in the background

Today, it has many oyster bars, eclectic architecture, sun-drenched, meticulously arranged beaches, modern night clubs, elite shops and summer evening samba dancing on the beach. A few recommended places to visit are the Rabin Square, the Azrieli Mall’s viewpoint up top, the Eretz Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Tel Aviv Theatre and the Shenkin Street.

During the recent decade, Tel Aviv has been riding high – glass skyscrapers and new hotels have been springing up like mushrooms after the rain. Experts think that, providing the country proves ultimately successful at dealing with its ethnic and religious conflicts, it might become as successful as the other Asian giant - Singapore.

Due to its popularity with tourists, Tel Aviv has also been developing its sex industry, which makes the most religious Israelis shudder with disgust at mere mention of the city - for them, it’s synonymous with Sodom and Gomorrah at their peak.

Happy young non-conformist couple kiss during Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Happy young non-conformist couple kiss during Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel

One of the most visited tourist attractions of the city is the old port of Jaffa, which is believed to have served the Egyptians and Phoenicians. In 1968, the Government of Israel decided to establish a corporation which would take care of Jaffa port’s future development. Since then, the port has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Tel Aviv. Here you can find scores of art studios, galleries, archaeology, jewellery and art shops, and small narrow streets, named after the signs of the Zodiac.

It’s worth mentioning that the locals of Tel Aviv are very civic-minded, which leads them to be protective of their city and often engage in repairing abandoned territories, buildings and squares with their own money.

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