Laura Francis explores the distinctive International Style of Tel Aviv’s UNESCO-protected White City, reputed to be the only ‘Bauhaus city’ in the world.
Tel Aviv is a city flushed with youth. Perched on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and barely a century old, it is renowned for it’s long beach, its nocturnal party scene, and its religious and sexual tolerance. When I visited for the first time this September, I was overwhelmed by the incongruously Western atmosphere of the city, its familiarity – more a sunny outpost of Barcelona or San Francisco than a gateway to the Holy Land.
It’s a feeling that’s enhanced by the prominence of modernist, and distinctly European, architecture.
Israel, one of the world’s most kid-friendly countries, offers plenty for families to do, from adventures in birdwatching and cave spelunking to racing down water park slides and lazy days at the beach. Children are highly valued in Israeli culture, and locals will dote on little ones, even welcoming children into upscale restaurants and weddings (and sometimes lecturing parents on best childcare practices!).
Travelling with children in any region in Israel is as easy as ABC. Here are our top picks across the country.
A major stopover for birds migrating between Africa, Europe and Asia, Israel is a serious destination for birdwatchers of all ages.
I love Israel. I first visited age 16, and have returned again and again, drawn in by the vast array of experiences and landscapes this incredibly complex, achingly beautiful country offers.
There aren’t many places so small or so diverse you can travel from holy cities to ancient fortresses to surreal salt lakes in just one morning. Where you can find beach nightclubs, desert hikes and iconic religious sites sitting practically side by side.
And even in spite of the region’s uneasy politics, it’s growing fast as a tourist destination.
In fact, the most-recent World Tourism Organization Travel Barometer listed the Palestine Territories as the fastest-growing travel region in the world.
Here at Intrepid, we were really happy to hear that.
The residential tower features a unique screened façade.
Tel Aviv has a new architectural marvel. Today, Richard Meier & Partners officially completed its Rothschild Tower, a modern residence with deep aesthetic ties to its city’s history and vernacular architecture. Set along Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv’s White City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building fits in seamlessly with the approximately 4,000 Bauhaus-era buildings that give the city the record for the largest concentrations of Bauhaus buildings in the world. “The great thing about the site is that it’s related to the whole city; it’s related to all of the wonderful buildings of the 1930s and to the historic buildings of Rothschild Boulevard,” said Meier in a statement. “It makes me very happy to be in such company.”
Historic settlement mounds, known as tels, are characteristic of the flatter lands of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and eastern Turkey. Of more than 200 such mounds in Israel, the three sites of Megiddo, Hazor and Beer Sheba are representative of those that contain substantial remains of cities with biblical connections and are strongly associated with events portrayed in the bible.
The three tels extend across the State of Israel; Tel Hazor in the north, near the Sea of Galilee; Tel Megiddo 50 kilometers to the south west; and Tel Beer Sheba near the Negev Desert in the south.
The three sites reflect the wealth and power of Bronze and Iron Age cities in the fertile biblical lands.
Great cities often embody a special blend of characteristics, from food and culture to retail and park space.
The best are their own unique, global brands that feature a distinct look, feel and promise. But most often, it’s a city’s landmarks and unique architecture that make the strongest first impression.
One can’t think of Barcelona without imagining the sweeping curves of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces, from La Sagrada Família to La Pedrera.
Miami conjures images of Ocean Drive, lined with Art Deco-inspired hotels in bright yellow, pink and blue. And flying over Tel Aviv, the first thing we see is the iconic “White City” skyline, a sea of Bauhaus-style buildings recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei once said, “Architecture is the very mirror of life.”
From the World Heritage inscription or the Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel:
The four Mount Carmel caves (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad, and Skhul) and their terraces are clustered adjacent to each other along the south side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara valley. The steep-sided valley opening to the coastal plain on the west side of the Carmel range provides the visual setting of a prehistoric habitat.
Located in one of the best preserved fossilized reefs of the Mediterranean region, the site contains cultural deposits representing half a million years of human evolution from the Lower Palaeolithic to the present. It is recognized as providing a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development.
Tel Aviv is perhaps best known for its nightlife and as the most cosmopolitan city in a country that is often mired in conflict, but it is also home to the highest number of Bauhaus-style buildings in the world. A Unesco-designated World Heritage Site, its White City district is home to over 4,000 listed buildings and makes a good spot from which to commence an exploration of the country’s often surprising design and architectural heritage.
The Bauhaus style was brought to Israel in the 1930s by German-Jewish architects, alumni of the Staatliches Bauhaus school of art, and was characterised by the prioritisation of function over aesthetics and the use of inexpensive materials, which was ideal for the emerging city. Some of the best examples of Bauhaus and other historic styles are found on Bialik Street, Tel Aviv’s most picturesque avenue.
Conde Naste Traveller have recently revealed their top 20 cities in the world for architecture. Take a look at the top 10 on Construction Global.
10. Catalan Modernism: Barcelona, Spain
With a number of beautiful, historic buildings for tourists and architectural lovers to enjoy, Barcelona and the country as a whole is famed for its Catalan modernism. Established at the same time as the Catalan Renaissance in the nineteenth century, Modernism became an architectural movement in which Catalonia wanted to be placed on an equal level with the rest of Europe’s leading industrial developments, with the goal to become a more modernised city, with new styles and architectural exploration.
Examples of Catalan modernism include the Castell dels Tres Dragons, built between 1887-1888 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and the Central Market in Valencia.