Jaffa, to the south of the city center, preserves something of the atmosphere of an old Arab town, very different from the European air of Tel Aviv. It is particularly lively in the evening, when the restaurants in the heart of the old town are thronged with people.Jaffa has undergone great changes in the 20th century. During the 1921 riots, in the interests of maintaining order, the British authorities cut wide modern streets through the maze of alleys; then in 1948, following the mass flight of the Arab population, extensive slum clearance and redevelopment was necessary.
The Clock-Tower in the center of Jaffa was built in 1906 to mark the 50-year jubilee of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. On the tower is a plaque commemorating the Israelis killed in the battle for the town in 1948.
Immediately west of the Clock-Tower in Jaffa is the Great Mosque or Mahmudiye Mosque, built in 1810 by the Ottoman governor Mahmud Pasha, known as Abu Nebut ("Father of the Cudgel"). The builders re-used antique columns from Ashqelon and Caesarea but mistakenly set them upside down, with the capitals at the foot.
St Peter's Monastery
A few hundred meters beyond the archeological museum in Jaffa is the acropolis (37m/121ft), on which is the Franciscan monastery of St Peter, built in 1654 on the site of a 13th century Crusader castle. Its name recalls the apostle Peter's visit to Jaffa (Acts 9,36-43), as does the so-called tomb of Tabitha in the Russian Monastery. From the courtyard of the monastery steps lead down to the vaulted chambers, still intact, of the Crusader castle.
In the square in front of the monastery in Jaffa and the hill to the east, now laid out as an attractive park (Gan Hapisga), are the excavations which brought to light earlier occupation levels, with a 6m/20ft thick wall of the Hyksos period (18th-16th c. B.C.), a town gate bearing the name of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1290-24 B.C.), remains of a Canaanite town and a Jewish settlement of the fourth century B.C. and relics of the Maccabean and Roman periods.
From the hill above St Peter's Monastery in Jaffa there is a fine view of the Harbor. A place of importance from the second millennium B.C. onwards, it was later superseded by Ashdod and Haifa and is now only a fishing and boating Harbor. Round the Harbor are cliffs and isolated rocks, on one of which, according to Greek legend, Andromeda, daughter of the mythical foundress of the town, Joppa, was chained until her release by Perseus.
South of the harbor in Jaffa through the narrow lanes of the town, passing picturesque old houses, we come to a small mosque built in 1730. It is believed to occupy the site of the house of Simon the Tanner, with whom Peter stayed after raising Tabitha from the dead.
Some 2km/1.25mi southeast of old Jaffa can be seen the slender tower of the Russian Monastery in its setting of palms. The Russian government bought the hill of Abu Kabir in 1860 and built a monastery dedicated to St Peter with accommodation for pilgrims. Under the courtyard of the monastery is an underground chamber with numerous recesses for burials. It is part of a Jewish cemetery of the first-fourth centuries A.D., but in Christian tradition is believed to be the tomb of Tabitha, whom Peter raised from the dead.
Ilana Goor Museum
The Ilana Goor Museum is located in the heart of Old Jaffa in an impressive, restored, mid 18th century home. The building, which is also the artists' home, houses the collection of Ilana Goor, which includes sculptures, jewelry, furniture, and clothing, along with items she has collected over the years.From the balcony there are great views to the sea.
More Jaffa Pictures
Map - Jaffa
Map of Tel Aviv-Jaffa Attractions