Tel Aviv’s White City might be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the words boring, historic, or ageing do not describe it at all! The White City of Tel Aviv is the world’s largest collection of International or Bauhaus style buildings. Since being designated one of the first ‘modern’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world in 2003, restoration of these buildings constructed by German immigrants in the 1920’s and 1930’s has picked up and this quarter is now being restored to its earliest glory.
Bialik Square and the Old Town Hall of Tel Aviv
The White City is located between Allenby Street in the south, Begin Road and Ibn Gvirol Street in the east, the Yarkon River in the north, and the Mediterranean in the west. It has been called the White City for the simple reason that most buildings in the area are… you guessed it, white!
In the 1920’s and 30’s a large number of Jewish architects, who had studied in Europe, moved to Tel Aviv. Wanting to recreate the cafe culture of Europe in the hot climate of Israel, whilst integrating the modernist architectural style they had practised, the group created a new architectural language, which is rich and diverse, characterized by its asymmetry, functionality and simplicity. The balconies, building pillars, flat roofs and “thermometer” windows have since become trademarks of Tel Aviv.
Rothschild Boulevard at night celebrating Tel Aviv’s 100th Birthday by Flickr user noam_fein
The White City has been largely restored over the past 20 years as people have realized the importance of the area. It has grown into one of the city’s coolest, trendiest and funnest districts, with a vibrant atmosphere, and streets lined with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
Within the White City lies Rothschild Boulevard, one of the city’s first streets designed as a public space with a central garden with benches, a pathway, and kiosks. From the beginning, it has been a place for the locals to see, and to be seen. The street is perfect for a stroll taking in some of the Bauhaus architecture (and glass skyscrapers constructed next to them recently.) The unique kiosks in the center of the boulevard a perfect place to stop for a drink. For coffee, try the Espresso Bar kiosk, whilst the Juice Bar has great fruit juices, or the ultra-trendy Take Away on Rothschild has coffee and sandwiches. Alternatively you have Japanika, a sushi bar, and MiTachet Laetz a sandwich bar. Rothschild is also home to a number of Tel Aviv’s trendy contemporary art galleries, be sure to stop in if you are on the boulevard.
Kiosk on Rothschild Boulevard
Another notable street in the White City is Sheinkin Street, an iconic street, which to many Israelis is a symbol of Tel Aviv as a whole, for good or for bad, a city which has changed in the past twenty years to an outward looking, global city. Sheinkin is a street of old boutiques, cafes and interesting people. Even the ‘chain’ stores here have adopted a free-thinking design for their stores. Fashion boutiques include Story, Elise, Ellse, and BIG TOM, whilst Bahunot and Daniella Lehavi are good for shoes. Jewellery can be found at X-Ray, whilst gallery Urbanix is interesting. Orna & Ella is Sheinkin’s most prominent and popular cafe.
The White City of Tel Aviv is hard to miss if you are visiting the city, and its worth taking the effort to explore a bit, and take in the beautiful architecture, unique atmosphere, and great food and drink it offers. Many visitors decide to take a Tel Aviv Architecture Tour.