Jaffa is the ancient city that Tel Aviv grew out of and is believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Situated on the Mediterranean shore, Jaffa has the only port in the world that can claim continuous, uninterrupted inhabitation throughout its existence.
Historically, it has witnessed the presence of the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians, Alexander the Great, Maccabees, Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottomans, and even the famous French ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte.
In modern times, Jaffa is unique in Israel in that it is a city with mixed populations – Jews, Muslims and Christians all live together in the city.
One of the sightseeing highlights when visiting Jaffa is the Old City, a historic and picturesque region of the city characterized by narrow alleyways, Arabesque arches, and typical Middle Eastern architecture.
The Old City contains many artists’ studios, art galleries, and small shops. The home of one Israeli artist living in the Old City, Ilana Goor, has been converted into the Ilana Goor Museum, which is open to the public. The streets of the Old City are named after the signs of the Zodiac.
Adjacent to the Old City, is the Clock Tower. Situated in a newly renovated square at the entrance to Jaffa’s more historic area, the German style Clock Tower was built in 1906 for Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
If you walk past the Clock Tower and make a left after the famous and delicious Aboulafia Bakery, you will find the Flea Market (or Shuk Hapishpeshim), which is active every day but Saturday.
Commonly found merchandise includes furniture, kitchenware, copper and brass items, paintings, jewelry, Judaica, and ceramics. Feel free to bargain with the vendors.
If you get hungry after all your sightseeing and bargaining, some good food options include Aboulafia Bakery near the Clock Tower. Aboulafia has been selling its aromatic and enticing wares from that location since 1879, and popular favorites are pita with za’atar and sambousac filled with various fillings - such as potato, mushroom, cheese, or egg.