For many years, Jaffa was associated with the famous deliciously sweet oranges that were exported all over the world from the fruit groves around Jaffa. But there is so much more to the city – art and architecture, history and happenings! There is so much to discover when you start exploring Jaffa. Here are some fun facts about Jaffa – how many of them did you know?
Governor of Jaffa in Ottoman times, named for the club that he carried around!
Abu Nabut (“Father of the Club”, after the club he used to carry and strike his opponents with) was the Ottoman ruler of Jaffa in the 19th century. He can take credit for much of the amazing architecture in Jaffa: public buildings, city walls, the harbor, and markets. The legend goes that one night Abu Nabut went for a walk and returned to town late. His standing order with the guards at the gate were to let no man in after dark. When he tried to tell the guards that he was the governor Abu Nabut, and they should let him in, but they would not listen. In the morning he wanted to execute the guards and asked them if they had anything to say in their defence. They replied that they were only following his orders, he agreed with them and they were spared.
A Sea Monster and City Sisters
According to Greek legend, the King of Jaffa and his wife boasted that their daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than the mermaids. Poseidon, God of the Sea, decided to punish the humans for their pride. He sent a sea monster to destroy Jaffa. The King decided to sacrifice Andromeda to the monster, to save Jaffa. Andromeda was tied to the rocks on the shore of Jaffa. Perseus, chief of the Gods, was passing through, saw Andromeda and fell in love. He chopped off the head of the monster, which fell into the water. All that is left of the monster are the sea rocks that you can see off the shore of Jaffa. Cast your eye next to the Tel Aviv sky line. Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 by families leaving the walls of the Old City of Jaffa. It soon overtook Jaffa in size and modernity, and became known as the White City that never rests, while Jaffa became the sleepy and shy sister.
Of Generals and Statues
Despite the fact that Napoleon was responsible for the massacre here in Jaffa, there are a number of statues of him all over the city. Perhaps it is an attempt to market Jaffa, perhaps it is ignorance, or perhaps it is to tease the French despotic general, posthumously.
The Jaffa Port
The Jaffa port has a history spanning over three millennia and some historians say that it is the oldest port city in human history. It is said that it was founded by Japhet, son of Noah. It is from here that Jonah got on a boat to escape his mission. The port continued to be important through history, and served as the main entry point to the land of Israel until the late 19th century, it was through here that the waves of Jews coming to Israel in the 19th and early 20th Century came, and the long grey building you see was an Ottoman customs building. In his only visit to the land of Israel, Visionary of the Jewish state, Theodore Herzl disembarked here at the port in Jaffa. In the 1920’s the port became too small for modern ships, and as tensions arose between the Jews and the Arabs of Jaffa the Jewish community built an alternative port in Tel Aviv. New ports were later built south of Tel Aviv in Ashdod and north in Haifa, to cater for modern-day shipping methods. Today the port is used largely by local fishermen who continue the centuries old tradition of the area. In recent years, Old Jaffa Port has been developed as a cultural attraction – there are restaurants, museums, shops and art exhibits.
Building Jaffa up again
In the 1948 War of Independence, much of Jaffa was destroyed. In order to rebuild it, the State of Israel invited artists to open studios here, and so Jaffa became an artist colony. The Old City alleys, named for the Zodiac signs are fill with art galleries of all types.
Are you curious to see Jaffa? Come and join us on our Jaffa Scavenger Hunt!