Tel Aviv, a fascinating, young city of the Middle East, is a little over a hundred years old. For tourists, who love history, one of the best ways to learn about the city is by taking a walking tour of Sandeman Tours. This tour costs € 17 for adults and € 16 for students and lasts about 2,5-3 hours. The tour begins at the Jaffa Clock Tower on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2pm. The charming English guide, Samuel has a deep knowledge about the history of the city and shares interesting stories about the dreamers who arrived to the city throughout the 20th century to establish this new Jewish city. He mixes historical facts with some personal stories of immigrants of his family. Tel Aviv Walking Tour
The tour started at the Jaffa clock tower, where Samuel spoke about the origins of the clock and the touched upon the history of the 4000 year old city. He told about the Gate of Zion in Jaffa, that connects the city to the Gate of Jaffa in Jerusalem. After Jaffa, the group walked along the beach of the Mediterranean Sea to reach The American Colony. We reached an old American wooden house and heard the story of one of the first dreamers, Reverend McAdams, who arrived to the holy land in 1868 from Maine, with a group of people to welcome the arrival of the next messiah to the World, but returned to America soon after, because of the dire weather conditions.
The next stop was at the German Colony, where we could observe German style houses built in the end of the 19th century, by the first German immigrants who came to the Holy Land. In this part of town, we saw houses that looked unusual for the region. These were tall houses, built in German style for snowy Winters and not for hot Middle-Eastern weather. Tel Aviv Walking Tour
The next stop was at Neve Tzedek, where our guide spoke about the birth of the Zionist movement in the end of 19th century and how this initiated the Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. Jaffa became too small for the in-flowing Jewish population and the city started expanding South. At this point, Neve Tzedek was founded as the first Jewish city outside of Jaffa. Soon after, two schools were established and also a theater. This was the time, when the official language of the country was chosen to be Hebrew. Until 1888, Hebrew was only used in religious scripts and ceremonies. After 1880ies, many immigrants from Yemen arrived to the area, however, they were discriminated by the European Jews in Neve Tzedek and they moved outside of the town, further expanding the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. Our guide also pointed out a house where the grandfather of his wife lived, when he first arrived to Neve Tzedek. Tel Aviv Walking Tour
The next stop of the tour was on the upscale Rotschild Boulevard. Here our guide was talking about the foundation of Tel Aviv in 1909 and the rapid development of the city. By 1940 150,000 people lived here. Tel Aviv meant “Old New Land” and got its name from the book of Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism. The tour stopped at the Shalom Meir Tower, where there was a photo exhibit about the history of Tel Aviv on the ground floor. We saw the miniature version of Tel Aviv as well as part of the exhibit. The Shalom Meir Tower was at one point the tallest building of the Middle-East, when it was built in 1965. As we were walking down Rotschild Boulevard, we learned about the different architectural styles of the city. In the 20ies, the city was built in eclectic style and later Bauhaus architecture became popular.
Our guide explained the characteristics of the Bauhaus Architecture and how it brought the community together within the building.
We also learned that Tel Aviv, also known as the White City, was a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During our walk we also found out about the foundation of Israel and we walked by the building where the declaration of Israel was signed. The tour took us through the beautiful Rotschild Boulevard and ended by the Habima Theatre, the National Theatre, where Samuel explained us about the history of the building and the significance of the art in front of the it.
I can highly recommend the tour to visitors, who want to get to know the history of this fascinating city in a few hours. It is well worth the € 17, as the guide is knowledgeable and entertaining and he provides many interesting facts about the city.
The same tour company organizes free walking tours every day at 11am and 2pm in Jaffa and also in Jerusalem. I took both of these tours and they were a great way to learn about these cities. You are only expected to tip your guide after the tour.
If you are looking for the boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, check out the Poli House right near the Carmel Market.