Wednesday, 13 August 2008
The phrase goes, “whilst Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays.”
Israel’s second city is located on the Mediterranean, a city with a savvy attitude and cultural astuteness. “The city which never sleeps”, as Tel Aviv has come to be known for its renowned night life, is also a city of fantastic cuisine, culture, and liberalism. The city’s beaches stretch for miles, whilst many prominent museums, and restored quarters such as the ancient port of Jaffa, arguably the oldest port in the world, Neve Tzedek and the White City UNESCO world heritage site, with its enchanting Bauhaus style buildings make Tel Aviv a city which you can never stop exploring.
Tel Aviv was founded less than 100 years ago, in 1909 as a suburb north of the city of Jaffa, believed to be the oldest port in the world. The suburb grew and grew, and eventually overtook Jaffa in size, merging with it after Israel’s independence to form a single municipality. The city is now the largest Jewish city of modern times, at the heart of the Israeli hi-tech industry known as Silicon Wadi.
Immigrants have come to Tel Aviv from far and wide, bringing with them their own styles of cuisine, culture, and architecture. As such, no matter what you are after, you’ll be sure to find it here. In terms of food, the city has gained a reputation for high quality, and, by European style, lower priced restaurants. So much is this true that the Italian Ministry of Agriculture named the best Italian restaurant outside of Italy in the city. All styles of food are represented here, although a visit isn’t probably complete without sampling the national dish of Israel, falafel.
The cultural scene in Tel Aviv is equally diverse. Museums, theatres, galleries, dance centres, and concert halls are sprawled around the city and Tel Aviv's legendary nightlife just gets better and better.
In 2003, Tel Aviv was designated UNESCO World Heritage Status for its ‘White City’. This is an area around Rothschild Boulevard in the north of the city which has the world’s largest collection of international, or Bauhaus styled buildings. The area has recently been restored and walking tours of the White City take place regularly, whilst the Bauhaus Museum offers an insight into this architectural style brought to the city by German immigrants.
Since the 1980s gentrification has taken place in many of the formerly poor southern neighbourhoods of the city such as Neve Tzedek and Florentin. These more Middle-Eastern style neighbourhoods are at the heart of the city’s nightlife. Other areas to visit are Sheinkin Street and the redeveloped Tel Aviv Port in the north of the city.
The 1990s saw Tel Aviv move into a new era as the hi-tech industry developed around the city, bringing with it new skyscrapers. The tallest of these, the Azrieli Center Circular Tower offers an observation gallery with views across the city.
A visit to Tel Aviv couldn’t be complete without a visit to the beach. Running the length of the city, from north to south, many of the large-chain hotels overlook the promenade. The city also has a selection of smaller, boutique or more modestly priced hotels, generally to European standards.