Tel Aviv began its history in Jaffa (Yafo) – the ancient 3,000-year-old adjoining city that lies to its southwest. The current Old City of Jaffa was built during the Ottoman Empire and its stone houses and narrow alleyways now house the picturesque artists’ quarter and tourist center.
Among the main attractions of Old Jaffa are Gan HaPisga – the Summit Garden with its restaurants, galleries, shops with Judaica, and unique atmosphere, the seaside promenade and walls of the old city, the visitors’ center in the old courtyard, and the fishing port.
There are also several important Christian sites in Old Jaffa such as theC Church of Saint Peter, which dates back to the 17th century, the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had his vision of the non-kosher animals, and the Tomb of Tabitha, whose righteous deeds enabled Peter to raise her from the dead. Around Jaffa there is the Ottoman clock tower, a vibrant flea market that is always worth visiting, and the Ajami neighborhood.
In 1909 sixty-six Jewish families who resided in Jaffa established the first neighborhood of what would later become the city of Tel Aviv. The neighborhood, called “Akhuzat Bayit” (homestead) was originally within Jaffa. In 1910 it was renamed Tel Aviv, and the neighborhood began to expand. Other new neighborhoods were added until it eventually became the center of the Yishuv – the Jewish settlement in Palestine at the time. It was in Tel Aviv, on May 14 1948, that David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel.
The former Akhuzat Bayit neighborhood, which extends between Montifiore Street and Yehuda HaLevi, is the historical nucleus of Tel Aviv. To the west is the neighborhood of Neveh Tsedek, which was the first Jewish neighborhood to be established outside Jaffa in 1887. This neighborhood was renovated in the 1980s and today it is a picturesque and charming neighborhood where many of the original houses are still standing.
There are many buildings in the neighborhoods surrounding Akhuzat Bayit that were built in the eclectic style that was popular in Tel Aviv in the 1920s. Clusters of buildings built in this style can be found on Nakhlat Binyamin and in the “heart of the city” – the triangle between Shenkin Street, Rothschild Boulevard, and Allenby Street.