Text by Rachel Elnav and Rony Levinson. Photo: Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis
Ancient things tend to evoke a sense of fascination in us. Take a look at Jaffa for example. It is said to be the most ancient of cities, and one of the most ancient ports in the world. (Some say Jaffa is second only to Latakia in Syria to Israel’s north or El Jarf on the banks of the Gulf of Suez.) Jaffa is also mentioned in the Bible: “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish…” (Jonah 1:3). Jaffa Port lies halfway between Haifa and Gaza. Here’s the top five places you should visit in Jaffa Port.
1. JAFFA TALES
The Old Jaffa Visitors Center is located at Kedumim Square, in the heart of ancient Jaffa. The “Jaffa Tales” experience offers a 45-minute tour in an underground compound, revealing the secrets and stories of the 4,000-year-old city.
2. JAFFA’S PORT
Most famous for having featured in the Biblical story of “Jonah and the Whale”, this ancient port has now been transformed into a major tourist attraction. Bustling with life, it is home to artists of every stripe, and street performances are a common sight in its narrow alleys. Visitors can also shop here for exquisite antique souvenirs.
3. NALAGA’AT CENTER
Founded in December 2007 by a non-profit organisation, the Nalaga’at Center is home to the Deaf-blind Acting Ensemble, a cast of 11 disabled actors who have been featured locally and abroad. Before enjoying this unique artistic experience, dine in the dark at the Center’s BlackOut restaurant and be wowed by the service provided by the team of blind waiters.
4. GIVAT ALIYA BEACH (JAFFA BEACH)
Lauded for offering a unique beach experience, Givat Aliya features a gorgeous promenade adorned with beautiful stone arches. Go for a picturesque stroll here on your way to Old Jaffa’s Ajami neighbourhood to try some local eateries, like Abu Hassan’s famed hummus restaurant.
5. FLOATING ORANGE TREE
A work of Israeli artist Ran Morin, this tree serves to emphasise the increasing separation between man and Nature. “Floating” in a earthenware pitcher hung by metal chains from the walls of nearby houses, this small orange tree is trying to break free of its container, signifying Nature’s desire to reconnect with man and his world.
Check out the rest of this article in Asian Geographic No.106 Issue 4/2014 here or download a digital copy here