Visiting Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv

Author: Ira Riklis  |  Category: Tel Aviv

Old Jaffa is an ancient port city located in the oldest part of the city of Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s famous among those of the Jewish and Christian faiths because it is mentioned in the Bible several times, most notably in association with the stories of Jonah, Solomon, and the Apostle Peter. It is also mentioned in several ancient Egyptian letters, including one from 1440 BCE that celebrates the town’s conquest by the army of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

The Long and Varied History of Old Jaffa

Originally referred to as simply Jaffa, legend has it that the town was named for Japheth, who was one of Noah’s sons, and who is said to be the founder of the place. The town went through periods of domination by the Canaanites and the Philistines during its early history. Later, Old Jaffa was conquered by the Biblical King David and later ruled by his son, Solomon.

It remained a Jewish city for many centuries, but eventually fell into the hands of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Phoenicians. Later, Alexander the Great stationed some of his troops in Old Jaffa. The town became Jewish again when the Maccabean rebels took the city and returned it to its Jewish roots. Eventually, the town fell to the Romans, who repressed the Jewish people living there and installed a garrison to keep the peace.

Places to See in Old Jaffa Today

With such a rich history, it is no surprise that there are a lot of wonderful things to see and do in Old Jaffa today. Jaffa Hill is a must-see destination on any trip to this ancient town. It is where many of the town’s amazing and enlightening archaeological treasures are housed. The most ancient finds are located here, including Egyptian artifacts that are thousands of years old.

While you’re in town, don’t miss the Andromeda Rock. This is the very rock where Greek mythology states that Andromeda was chained while awaiting the ravishment by the Cetus before she was rescued by Perseus. There are more modern treasures to be found here, as well. The Clock Square is one, having been built in 1906 to honor the current Sultan of the area. There is also a beautiful antique lighthouse in the port.

Old Jaffa is a town of a very ancient and documented history, and its inhabitants had contact with some of the most famous nations of the ancient world. It is a place that is not to be missed on any trip to Israel for its association with Jewish and Christian history alone. However, the town offers much more than that, and will keep you busy happily exploring its wonders for days on end. There is always something new to discover in Old Jaffa.