Eurasia   >   Israel

TEL AVIV

Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel (after Jerusalem), and the largest metropolitan area. It is on the Mediterranean coast, about 60 km northwest of Jerusalem and 100 km south of Haifa. The official name is Tel Aviv-Yafo (תל אביב-יפו), and reflects the fact that the city has grown beside (and absorbed) the ancient port city of Yafo (English: Jaffa, Arabic: يافا Yafa), to the south of the new city center. Tel Aviv is home to most embassies in Israel.


The smallish Gulf of Jaffa was the site of a fortified port town for at least 4,000 years. During the 19th century the town’s population grew from about 2,500 (1806) to 17,000 (1886). The old city walls could no longer contain the population, and they were destroyed in the 1870s. New, more spacious neighborhoods started to appear.


Tel Aviv (meaning literally "Hill of Spring") was founded in 1909 by a group of distinguished Jewish residents of Jaffa. They envisaged a European-style garden suburb, with wide streets and boulevards. Leaving Jaffa wasn’t, however, only a question of an upgrade in lifestyle. Moving out of the Arab-dominated town also represented their belief in the Jewish national movement, Zionism. Before being a city, Tel Aviv was one of the many titles of Theodor Herzl's utopian Zionist book The Old New Land. Setting out with a grand vision, the 60 Tel Aviv founders started out by building the first Middle Eastern urban center with running water, no small wonder in that part of the world in 1909. Houses from this period can still be seen in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood.


- Wikivoyage

Image by Mesut Kaya

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