A Short Walk in Old Jaffa

Our walk begins on Louis Pasteur St. near where it turns off of Jefet St. and heads down towards the port. On the right is a fountain with a sculpture of a whale by the local artist Ilana Goor.  The sculpture was inspired by the bible story of Jonah and the whale.

A few meters west of the fountain, turn right (north) and walk up the steps passed a missing section of Jaffa’s walls, where they were breached by Napoleon’s soldiers in 1799. Bearing slightly to the right and then continuing up the stairs takes us to Mazal Dagim St, where we stop to look at the narrow covered street and the artwork installed on its walls. Many of the streets in Old Jaffa are named for signs of the zodiac. Some of the zodiac signs even appear on street signs (for example, “Mazal xx = Sign of xx in the Zodiac”). We then turn to the right, follow the lane to the first right turn and then left to reach a sculpture of a suspended orange tree at the end of Mazal Arye St. The sculpture was created by the artist Ran Morin and inspired by that great Israeli icon the Jaffa Orange.

Leaving the suspended orange, we backtrack slightly and turn right up Mazal Gidi St. to reach the southern side of Tel Jaffa. In the park to our left is an archaeological site with a sculpture representing an Egyptian gate dubbed “Ramses Gate”. The gate reminds us of how Pharaoh Thutmose III conquered the city in the 15th century B.C.E. by sending baskets of gifts to the king of Jaffa with Egyptian soldiers hidden inside.

A stone-paved path leads up to the top of the Tel Jaffa, where we find a gate-like sculpture by the artist Dan Kafri called a ‘Statue of Faith’. Several biblical scenes are carved on the sculpture, including the Binding of Isaac, the Conquest of Jericho and Jacob’s Ladder. The top of the Tell also offers an inviting view to the north of Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean coast.

Descending the tell on its west side takes us to Kedumim Square, and our next stop in front of St. Peter’s Church. This Catholic church was built in the late 19th century by the Franciscan Order with funding from the Spanish royal house. Both the Franciscan and Spanish royal emblems appear above the church’s main entrance. One of the chapels is part of an earlier church built on the same location by the Crusader king Louis IX. The church is dedicated to where, according to Acts 10:8-28, Peter had a vision while went in a trance on the roof of Simon the Tanner.

Looking out to sea, just north of the church we can see the rocks at the entrance to Jaffa Port.  According to Greek mythology, one of these rocks is where Perseus saved Andromeda and the city of Jaffa by slaying a multi-headed sea monster, known as the Hydra.

This concludes our walk in Old Jaffa. Here are some options for further exploration:

1.    Follow Mazal Betulla St., just south of St. Peter’s Church down to the port to explore Jaffa’s harbor area.

2.    Continue north to Jaffa’s clock tower on Yefet St., Aboulafia’s Bakery and the flea market nearby.

3.   From Mazal Dagim Street – enter the Artist’s Colony and wander through the alleys – many of them have artwork mounted on the walls outside the shops making for a different atmosphere.

4.   Visit Old Jaffa at night.

For further information read the Introduction to Jaffa and view the Jaffa Gallery. Certain parts of this walk are accessible, but it is quite steep and some of the streets have steps, (some with ramps.)