Like many of Israel’s other ancient port towns, the history of Old Jaffa reflects the rulers who passed through the land. From archaelogical findings Old Jaffa served Egyptian and Phoenician sailors 4,000 years ago. The city is mentioned in the Bible and in the New Testament. During different periods, Jaffa was under Babylonian, Persian, Phoenician, Greek, Maccabean, Roman, and Byzantine rule. In the 14th Century, the Jaffa was destroyed by the Mamluks in fear of a Crusader takeover. It was during the Ottoman rule in the 17th century that Old Jaffa began to take its shape as we know it today, but it was not until the early 1800s that urban life really began to flourish there. Jewish Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities were created, the Ottoman governor achieved economic stability, and then, in a continued effort toward positive change, the city walls were pulled down. During the establishment of the State of Israel, Jaffa was a site of many riots between the Jewish and Arab residents. Today it is proudly known as one of Israel’s five cities with mixed Jewish and Arab residents.
A tour through Old Jaffa includes a number of stops at historic sites representing different religions and periods in the city’s long history. Old Jaffa’s famous clock tower fills Kedumim Square as you arrive at the Visitors’ Center. Inside are archaeological excavations, a painted history of the city’s more than 2000 year-old history, as well as a light and sound show. The Old Jaffa Museum is housed inside a government building used by Ottoman rulers in the 18th century; today it is filled with archaeological findings from the surrounding neighborhood. Old Jaffa hosts a wide variety of art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and museums, including the Nir Tzuk corner with Noa and Cordelia Restaurants, the Ilana Goor Museum and Lauren’s Gallery.
Alongside the Old Jaffa walls is a green park with spaces for walking, quiet resting spots and beautiful sea views. Within the park is the Wishing Bridge, whose Zodaic paintings are said to grant the visitor's wish. While there, you will see girls in white dresses: this is a popular spot for pre-wedding photographs. Jaffa Port and Flea Market are both just minutes away from Old Jaffa.
The Visitors Center: open seven days a week, 10 am - 6 pm