Tuesday, June 15, 2010

James Durham - Blue Sea and Bauhaus: A Day in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is merely a 45-minute ride by sherut (inexpensive shared taxi) from West Jerusalem. Students and faculty are taking advantage of Tel Aviv's proximity for afternoon sightseeing, sunbathing on beaches and nightlife.

Sometimes known as "The White City," Tel Aviv is home to thousands of buildings built in the architectural style known as "Bauhaus." The Bauhaus School in Germany, known for its production of modern art and architecture, was closed by the Nazi regime in 1933. Several Jewish architects from the Bauhaus School fled Germany and landed in the British Mandate of Palestine (later Israel). From the early 1930's until the 1950's, entire neighborhoods of burgeoning Tel Aviv were constructed in the sleek Bauhaus style. Most of these buildings were painted white, coining the moniker "The White City."

The striking angles of a Bauhaus apartment building.

On a recent visit to Tel Aviv, I took an audio walking tour of one of Tel Aviv's Bauhaus neighborhoods, bounded by the following streets: Yael, Shlomo Hamelech, Dizengoff, Frug and Frishman. The audio walking tours are provided by the Bauhaus Center of Tel Aviv, located at 99 Dizengoff Street. The Center sells a wide array of Bauhaus books and souvenirs. To learn more, try Dwelling on the Dunes, Tel Aviv: Modern Movement and Bauhaus Ideals by Nitza Metzger-Szmuk, a leading book on Tel Aviv's Bauhaus architects and architecture.

Hot pink bougainvillea highlights a Bauhaus apartment building with shuttered porches.

A beautifully restored Bauhaus apartment building on Frug Street.

The port of Old Jaffa is a short ride from the Bauhaus neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. Mosques, churches, and gardens terraced in limestone provide a lovely and peaceful stroll, away from the bustle of modern Tel Aviv. Old Jaffa provides panoramic views of Mediterranean beaches and the skyline of Tel Aviv.

A minaret in Old Jaffa, next to rocks in the harbor where Andromeda is said to have been tied for sacrifice to the Kraken.

A panoramic view of the coastline of Tel Aviv from atop the terraced gardens of Old Jaffa.

After sightseeing, the restaurants of Tel Aviv provide good respite. We visited “Orna and Ella” at 33 Sheinkin Street, had a leisurely meal, and encountered the American actor Paul Giamatti, ineffectively hidden behind dark sunglasses.

By James Durham, Touro Law Summer Abroad Program in Israel 2010

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