A Bit on Tel Aviv History and Architecture

Rumour will have it that as the tourists and rich have made their entry into Neve Tzedek, the artists and bohemians are moving on to Florentin, making it the new and upcoming neighbourhood.

If you put two jews in a room you will end up with five opinions! An iPhone is a peace of plastic with an Israeli brain! It is our second day in Tel Aviv and we are starting it off with a tour of the White City…

The White City

Despite the terrible jokes of our guide, he provided us with a thorough description of how Tel Aviv began back in 1909. He showed us the architecture of Rothchild Blvd and the surrounding streets while describing the first decades of Tel Aviv existence.

According to him, it is possible to walk down Rothchild Blvd and see as the city develops through the changing architecture. Except for the modern skyscrapers, which are from the last decade or so, the most dominant architectural styles of the area are the eclectic Orientalist style of the 1920s complete with arches, domes, oriental tiles and Greek inspired decorations and the International style of the 1930s – also known as Bauhaus.

More than 5000 houses around the centre are inspired by the Bauhaus school. The style was brought to Tel Aviv by German Jews who fled Nazi-Germany in the 1930s.

Unlike in Europe where much of the houses from this period were bombed away in WW2, Tel Aviv seems to be bursting with modernist houses of the International style. Sadly, many of them are crumbling and in a terrible state and pretty much falling apart in front of you.

However, our guide told us that in present-day Tel Aviv you have to agree to renovate one or two old houses in order to gain a permit for building. Thus, for every tall sparkling skyscraper being build in Tel Aviv an old historical house is completely renovated.

I really like that idea and it makes me want to return in 10 years just to see how far they have come with renovating the old houses. If things are going as they are now, the city will be full of skyscrapers mixed in between beautifully renovated houses from the 1920s and 30s.

After finishing our tour and having had an overload of Jewish jokes, we went on to see the centre with King George Street and Dizengoff Square and onwards down to Neve Tzedek and Florentin.

Neve Tzedek

Neve Tzedek which is one of the many names of Yehova and means the Abode of Justice is older than Tel Aviv itself. Today it is a fancy south-western neighbourhood, but in fact it dates back to 1887, 22 years prior to the founding of Tel Aviv.

And once again, it is the story of a group of Jewish families who were tired of living within the confines of Jaffa, thus moving out into the desert sand. The story however does not say whether they argued and complained as much as the later families establishing Tel Aviv.

The area is as Rothchild Blvd full of houses build in the International style. However, as the neighbourhood is two decades older you also find Jugendstil/Art Noveau inspired houses.

It is in many ways similar to Montmartre as it has a village feel atmosphere with small quisant houses in narrow streets. I definitely found it the most pleasant neighbourhood in Tel Aviv and was happy to see that also here were houses under renovation.

The very polite receptionist at our hostel had mentioned an ice-cream parlour called Anita. As we walked down Shabazi Street we easily spotted the place as it was full of locals and tourists alike standing in line for a homemade ice-cream to enjoy in the sun.

Florentin

After strolling around in the neighbourhood, we moved on to the rougher Florentin in which our hostel is. Here renovation is far away and the neighbourhood which is from the 1920’s suffers from lack of repair.

However, rumour will have it that as the tourists and rich have made their entry into Neve Tzedek, the artists and bohemians are moving on to Florentin, making it the new and upcoming neighbourhood. In a similar way as Neu Koln is slowly taking over from Kreutzberg as the hip place of Berlin.

My boyfriends very diplomatic statement of Florentin was that it was crappy. And it is true in a sense, but the area has potential and Herxzel Street and Florentin Street offer a ray of interesting places which indicate the bright future that the neighbourhood is on the brink of.

Unfortunately I have managed to delete 400 pictures from Neve Tzedek and Florentin.

From all of us to all of you ,

Shalom Shabbat

Zofka

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