The city of
Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, in a
raffle known as "the Seashell Raffle".
In a sandy and barren area, not far
from the beach, about 3 kilometers
outside of Jaffa, 60 families gathered
one bright morning and collected 120
seashells out of the water in order
to found a new settlement. On 60 white
seashells they wrote their family
names and on 60 grey seashells they
wrote the marks of the plots of land
that were to be distributed among
them. A boy and a girl were chosen
to simultaneously extract two seashells
- a grey seashell from one hat and
a white seashell from another hat.
And so, seashell after seashell each
family received the plot of land that
was to be their home in the new Jewish
neighborhood on the sea shore.
The foundation of a new Jewish urban
neighborhood outside Jaffa encountered
criticism and was even condemned by
the settlers of the period. These
were mainly members of Kibbutzim from
the second wave of immigration who
raised the banner of agricultural
and communal idealism and rejected
any sign of bourgeois or urban development.
The founders of the new neighborhood
claimed to their defense that "As
the city needs Jewish villages and
community farms in order to exist,
so do the rural settlements need a
Jewish city that will centralize trade
and industry so we will not be dependant
on favors and charity from outsiders.
The new neighborhood was originally
named after the association which
founded it "the Society of Home Builders"
and later received the name "Home
Estate" (Achuzat Bait). Only six months
after the initial constructions began
it was already called by many names
such as "Ivriya" (Hebrew), "Aviva"
(of Spring), "Yefefiya" (Beautiful),
"Shaanana" (Serene) and even "Hertzeliya"
(Town of Hertzel). Until finally the
author and journalist Nachum Sokolov
suggested the name "Tel Aviv", as
was the name of the Jewish city in
Theodor Hertzel's book "Altnoiland:
an ancient - new country". The word
"Tel" means an ancient ruin and the
word "Aviv" means blossoming and rejuvenation.
Surely enough, this suggestion won
the greatest number of votes and the
name of the town became "Tel Aviv"
and remained so until this day.
Dizengoff street, named after the
first mayor of Tel Aviv - Meir Dizengoff,
rose as an important icon in the existence
of Tel Aviv already in the early 1940's,
when the famous "Caf? Kassit" opened
and quickly became a central meeting
point and a source of inspiration
for thinkers and artists of the period
- Alterman, Shlonsky and others. During
the 50's and 60's the street established
its position as the avenue of coffee
shops, food parlors and luxury shops.
In fact, it became "Main Street Israel"
in any practical sense. The word "Lehizdangef"
(to be in Dizengoff) became a popular
slang in the renewing Hebrew language
and a synonym to luxury, bohemian
atmosphere and leisure culture. During
the 70's and 80's, in the eyes of
many, Dizengoff street became a symbol
of internationality and multi-culture,
a central axis for fashion, art and
culinary, which merges far-off ends
from around the world and turns them
into a colorful and fascinating Mediterranean
mosaic, with a unique and extraordinary
Today the entire family can enjoy
countless experiences of pleasure,
culture, dining and shopping on Dizengoff
street. From the national theater
"Habima" and the "Beit Lessin" theater,
along scores of cinemas scattered
around "Dizengoff Square" - the bustling
hub of the street, and through the
many busy restaurants, pubs and coffee
shops lining its length. Dizengoff
Center, the pioneer shopping mall
of Israel, extends for several square
miles of walkways filled with trendy
shops, food courts, special areas
for children and more. And of course
the renowned sea shore of Tel Aviv,
crowded with beach lovers year-round,
is but a five minutes stroll from
every point in Dizengoff.
A short distance from the intersection
of Dizengoff street and Gordon street
are other attractive main streets
such as King George, Bugrashov, Ben-Yehuda,
Hayarkon, Allenby and Sheinkin, each
of them having its own special theme
and a unique atmosphere. This advantageous
position makes the intersection of
Dizengoff and Gordon the ideal starting
point for any walking excursion of
central Tel Aviv.
THINGS TO DO
Art and Culture:
Tel Aviv Museum of Art is located at Shaul Hamelech Blvd. and offers exciting permanent collections as well as temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The museum also holds special events throughout the year and activities for the entire family. In close vicinity to the museum are the Tel Aviv opera house, the central library "Beit Ariela" and the judicial district.
The Eretz Israel Museum is a multi-disciplinary museum focusing on the history and culture of the Land of Israel through an array of extensive permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibits in archaeology, ethnography, folklore, Judaica, cultural history and local identity, traditional crafts and practical arts. It is located on Haim Levanon Street.
Beth Hatefutsoth, the Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, is located inside the Tel Aviv University campus and tells the story of the Jewish people from the time of their expulsion from the Land of Israel 2,500 years ago to the present. It relates the unique story of the continuity of the Jewish people through exhibition, education and cultural endeavors, providing multiple avenues of personal historical identification.
The Rubin Museum was formerly the home of the painter Reuven Rubin, where he resided with his family and worked from 1946 until his death in 1974. It holds a fine collection of the artist's work as well as temporary exhibitions. The museum is located on Bialik street, in close vicinity to the newly renovated Bialik Museum.
Dizengoff Center is located at the corner of Dizengoff and King George streets. It offers a wide variety of fashion shops, gifts, books, music, electronics, jewelry and more. Every weekend, from Thursday to Friday afternoon the shopping mall hosts an open food court with dozens of stands selling a rich assortment of home made food from different ethnical cuisines.
Azrieli Towers are located at the corner of Kaplan street and Menachem Begin road. The three towers complex offers a wide variety of shops and restaurants, movie theaters and more. In addition, you can ascent to the observatory on the 49th floor of the round tower, the highest skyscraper in Israel and admire the view of Tel Aviv from 187 Meters (613 Feet) above ground.
Sheinkin Street is one of the most fashionable and popular streets in Tel Aviv. It is dotted on both sides with dozens of fine boutiques, designer shops, cafes and small restaurants. Every Friday Sheinkin street becomes a colorful human mosaic bustling with hundreds of shoppers.
Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall is a serene stretch of small artisan shops, quiet on most weekdays but crowded during Fridays when it hosts its renowned open-sky market of fine artifacts and special gifts and souvenirs. The nearby Hacarmel and Betzalel markets offer a wide variety of low-priced clothes, fruits and vegetables in a unique local atmosphere.
Dining and Nightlife
Tel Aviv's old sea port has become in recent years a vibrating center of dining and nightlife. The port is enjoyable day and night, attracting Israelis of all ages to its newly designed seashore walkways, its modern nightclubs and many fine restaurants.
Ha'arbaa Street near Tel Aviv's Cinemateque offers a varied selection of fine restaurants spanning such cuisines as Turkish, Cajun, Japanese, American and more. In the nearby streets of Eben-Gabirol, Heshmonaim and Karlibach one may find several more interesting restaurants and Habima National Theater and Cultural Center is just a five minutes walk away.
In the Lillinblum street area are some of Tel Aviv's most vibrating pubs and bars, where you can hang out with young local population until the small hours of the night. Another important concentration of pubs and nightclubs is located in nearby Allenby Street.
The southernmost neighborhood of Tel Aviv - Florentin, is a busy commercial and industrial center by day and an even busier hangout center for young folks by night. Many pubs and bars are located in this neighborhood as well as the famous Barbie club which hosts many live music shows during weeknights and weekends.
Leisure and Excursions
Hayarkon Park spans for several acres of green pasture and walking paths along Tel Aviv's Hayarkon River. It is a great place to go on excursions by bicycle or by boats which are available for rent from the nearby rowing center.
Tel Aviv's famous beaches stretch for more than 4 Kilometers (2.5 miles) from the north of the city to the southern end near Jaffa. Open and active year round they offer sandy basking in the sun, cool bathing, open sea view restaurants and more.
Neve Tzedek is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods of Tel Aviv with serene streets and alleys and amazing architecture. Once a poverty stricken area it is now one of the most fashionable and prestigious neighborhoods where many artists live and work. The Suzanne Dallal center of music and dance is located in this neighborhood offering many shows and cultural events.
Old Jaffa is one of the most attractive places to tour in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The city which has been a major port and the entry point to ancient Israel offers a wealth of unique experiences. The traditional aromas and fragrances which have always characterized it are as strong today as they have been for millennia. Lose yourself to the beautiful stone buildings, winding alleyways, fishermen's port, artists' quarter, caf?s s, restaurants and shops.
The Orange Route is a self guided tour made of four marked paths which will take you along Tel Aviv's most interesting and important sites. The routes include: Historical Tel Aviv - Little Tel Aviv, Cultural Tel Aviv, Old Jaffa and North Tel Aviv. Maps of the orange route are available at every tourist information center.