Skip to main content

Photos: A Walk Through Israel's Old Jaffa

Boats at the old Jaffa port

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)


Jaffa has been an important portside city in what is now Israel since the Bronze Age, and was the scene of various stories from the Bible.

Jonah, of "Jonah and the Whale" fame, began his journey here, swallowed by the whale. This was also the site where St. Peter began to preach to Gentiles, according to the Bible. It was also here where the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon's Temple were received.

Jaffa is blessed with a deep port which has allowed the city to thrive since pre-biblical times. The harbor has been in use for nearly three millennia, and may be the oldest continuously used port in the world. It is now used mostly for recreational purposes, although it is home to a few small fishing vessels.

A hanging tree

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)


This is a hanging orange tree, a successor to the original installation by Ran Morin, an environmental sculptor. The original installation was completed in 1993 and held a larger orange tree, according to Morin's website.

The tree is meant to pose questions about the nature of existence, according to the site: "Can uprooted existence, established so definitely through international economics, communication & technology produce a new, lighter genuine aesthetic?" Morin writes. "My 'growing sculptures' do not try to answer these questions. They rather show a 'rooted-uprooted' state while going on living, much as we do, growing into an unclear future."

St. Peter's church

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

This Franciscan church was built 360 years ago in honor of St. Peter, who, according to the Bible, raised a disciple named Tabitha from the dead nearby.

Old city grove

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

A rare grove in the old city, offering respite for tourists and locals alike.

Flea market

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

A man sells his wares in the flea market section of old Jaffa. In the market one can buy anything from antique boudoirs to chintzy tourist fare. To get a decent price, haggling is essential.

Winding streets

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

The tiny and winding streets of Jaffa make an ideal place for newlyweds to take photographs. This reporter counted about 10 couples in less than 30 minutes.

Simon the Tanner

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

Various Christian traditions tell the story of Simon the Tanner, who hosted Peter the Apostle here, according to a sign outside the building. It was here that Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and had a famous vision in which he was told to eat animals regarded as unclean in the Jewish tradition, the sign continues. Peter interpreted this as divine permission to preach Christianity to Jews and pagans alike

Church door

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

An old unmarked church door, spotted through a narrow alley.

Sailboats

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

Sailboats at the old Jaffa port, which is home legends outside of Christianity and Judaism. Just beyond the port lies a rock outcropping where, according to Greek mythology, a woman named Andromeda was chained and offered as a sacrifice to an angry sea monster. But Perseus, her future husband, rescued her and killed the monster, as the story goes.

City entrance

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

An inconspicuous entrance to the winding streets of old Jaffa, opposite the port. Like Jerusalem and other old cities, the streets developed this way slowly over the years, often as a result of close proximity and unplanned development.

Steep steps

Jaffa, the Old city of Jaffa, Israel sights

(Image credit: Douglas Main)

Another steep drop in the steps of the old city, which contains many winding stairs and hidden alleyways.