Tel Aviv is like its famous Israeli sister Jerusalem in many ways. Although garnering a reputation of being a much more “modern” city, Tel Aviv is bursting with history to explore. The city has many parallels within itself; modern architecture and ambiance mixes with the old Middle Eastern stand-bys of street bazaars overflowing with exotic items.
Tel Aviv can be found along the Mediterranean and is somewhere around 60 miles from the cultural and historical center known as Jerusalem. Be prepared to spend at least three days here to see everything there is; of course, very few cities in the world can be *completely* perused in this short time! It will give you a huge appreciation for the city, however.
Ramses II’s Gate Garden. This is something you might not expect to find in Israel; an ancient site inhabited by the famous pharaoh known as Ramses the Great. The garden is located in Old Jaffa, a site of importance not only in ancient times but in the era of the Crusaders. Stroll around the park and take in the oasis of green away from the hustle and bustle of the main city.
Andromeda’s Rock. For a completely different experience, check out Andromeda’s rock. Although its Greek mythology-related history is doubtful (legend says a woman was chained here against her will and rescued in a classic hero scenario) the site itself is worthy to be noted. The chain of small rocks resembles a tiny group of islands. Come here to relax, look out over the waves, and wonder how many stories actually had a tiny grain of truth to them.
Carmel Market (Shuk Ha-Carmel) is a must-see in Tel Aviv, as markets are in any other Middle Eastern cities. It is another ancient stand-by, a bazaar with thousands of things to tempt the shopper’s eye. Walking along, the view is like that of a huge fair with vendors and canopies along the streets, children running, shoppers haggling. The experience will provide you with great memories of your trip. The market is in the Yemenite Quarter, and the neighborhood has been around since the early 1900s. Try some authentic Israeli food. It will be an unforgettable part of your trip that will leave you with warm memories!
Would you expect to hear an orchestra in Israel? If you have good timing and can get tickets to the performance, you can! The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has its base at Mann Auditorium, located at Habimah Square. In Habimah Square you can also find the Habimah Theater for a bit of Americana in the Middle East! If you love music and are bored in this part of the city, it’s by your own choice!
To get a glimpse of sites the medieval Crusaders might have seen, check out the section of Tel Aviv known as “Old Jaffa.” In ancient times the city was a thriving port, and remains of homes from thousands of years ago have since been found. Stop by the old tombstones; no one is sure exactly how old they are, but they’re rumored to cover hundreds of years from circa 400s B.C. to 400s A.D. There aren’t very many places in the world that one can view gravesites this old.
If you happen to want a small taste of the modern (perhaps in the shopping department) you won’t be disappointed here! For some thoroughly modern souvenirs or perhaps a fashion binge, try Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall (you will also find exquisite handmade items here), Dizengoff Center (which boasts theaters, places to eat and a large array of stores) or Azrieli Center, the city’s towering landmark. You’ll want to take into account that very few, if any, of those stores are open on Saturdays, and some will not be accessible between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00.
To discover Tel Aviv’s place in history, check out Eretz Israel Museum, a huge complex dealing with the history of this ancient city. Some of the things to check out are the Olive Oil Plant, museum collections breaking up different artistic mediums into easy-to-swallow exhibits, and the Planetarium. This is a big place so make sure you have at least a few hours to devote to the Eretz Israel Museum. You won’t be disappointed, and will come away with more knowledge of the city you’re seeing.