Jaffa, history, historic city, preservation
Jaffa, An Ancient City
Jaffa, history, historic city, town panning, historic preservation
Jaffa from British Mandate to Israeli Independence
jaffa, historic city, preservation

In 1831, Palestine was conquered by Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman viceroy (Wāli) in Egypt. He ruled the Land of Israel until 1840. The port of Jaffa was the closest to Egypt on the coast between Eretz Yisrael and Syria,  so it was well fortified. It was the point from which Ibrahim Pasha controlled the area, communicated with other ports, concentrated his troops, and collected taxes from all the districts in Eretz Yisrael. During this period until 1840, the Egyptians tried to introduce proper administrative practices. Public security  improved and pilgrims arrived; consular activities in Jaffa also increased. During this period there were consulates from Russia, England, France, Greece and the USA. Businesses began to thrive.  A large number of Egyptian peasants came to settle around Jaffa. The number of Jews also increased. However, as a result of English pressure the Egyptians withdrew, and the Ottoman governors resumed control.

A Christian neighborhood was established within the walls In the south-western part of the city, which featured mainly churches and hostels. Further to the south there was a residential neighborhood.  The public buildings of the city during this period were mainly government and religious institutions. The Saraya building, where the Pasha sat, was in the northern part of the city above the beach.  Pasha’s soldiers lived in houses inside the city. There were two baths nearby.

At this time, residential buildings did not exceed one or two stories; due to topography, buildings were staggered so they gave the impression from far away as being several stories high.  Walls were thick so they could hold under the weight of the domed roof.  Windows and doors were arched.  Most of the houses had paved courtyards. Flat roofs were used as part of the space of the house; they were paved and there had a high ledge for privacy and holes that allowed  ventilation. The public and religious institutions were taller and larger and connected to the shore by steps. Some were built from sandstone and the more elegant ones from chalkstone These buildings also had paved courtyards and domed rooms. Examples of these are the Saraya building and Al- Mahmoudia Mosque. Construction was initiated by the rulers, especially in the time of Abu Nabbut. Churches did not launch large-scale construction projects.  In the last three decades of the 19th century, in order to build one needed to obtain a firman (royal mandate) which was not an easy task. Even in the Egyptian period it was not easy to obtain a permit for new construction.

Despite the change of government, Jaffa continued to develop; during this period, hundreds of Egyptian families settled in small villages around the Old City and even established the Manshiya neighborhood north of Jaffa. A previous order prohibiting the settlement of Jews in Jaffa was rescinded and in 1839, a group of Ashkenazi Jews arrived in Jaffa. Jewish traders who wanted to make a living from trade and not only live off from charity funds  began to settle in the city. By this time there were already 30 Jewish families in the Old City. Some Jewish families left the Old City even before the construction of the Jewish neighborhoods and built houses in Manshiya (for example, the Shmerling and Cheloushe families). In the late 19th century, groups of Christians from the United States and Germany built colonies in Jaffa near the Old City; Christian Arabs also built neighborhoods outside the city walls.

At the end of the Crimean War in 1856 and especially after the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, Jaffa grew quickly. In 1864-5 the wharf was renovated, a lighthouse was built, and narrow streets were widened even though this involved destruction of shops and houses. Makeshift  buildings near the city gate were destroyed and the land was sold to private developers.  In 1875, reef rocks were blown up to widen the passage between them and in 1876, the Customs House was renovated. By the end of the 1870s, the wall and fortresses of the city had already been demolished and new buildings replaced the glacis. The area of the pier was paved and extended into the city and was known as Market Street. The market at the city gate was expanded into the fortress area.

Because security improved, the walls were destroyed; the city was no longer a fortified city.  Part of the wall from the seaside collapsed and the northern bastion remained. Only ruins remain from the south-east bastion, known as the British Fortress; instead, a hospital and church were built by French nuns from the Order of St. Joseph.  Konrad Schick reported in 1880 that the Jaffa moat had been filled and new houses and shops built over it, some very luxurious. The moat is under Yefet Street today.

A map compiled by Templar engineer Theodor Sandel in 1878/9 gives an accurate picture of Jaffa at the time. Residential housing in the Old City was not located along the coast or near the road leading from the port to the eastern gate (this area featured religious institutions, the Saraya, shops and markets) but deeper inside. The upper class, consuls and landowners lived in the Christian quarter.  The rest of the city was inhabited by Muslims and other minorities, such as Jews. The streets were narrow and  winding, full of rubbish and dusty, and lacked a drainage system.  Some of the alleys were dead ends. Most of the streets were too narrow for carts.  Most of the markets were located in the alleys around Jerusalem Gate,  in and outside the Old City.  Inns, cafes and baths were also opened in this area. Shops and tourist agencies opened along the narrow road connecting the Jerusalem Gate to the port. This road is probably the border of today’s Slope Park (Solomon Bay). According to a survey by the Palestine Exploration Fund from 1871, there were 1,131 houses in Jaffa, including 5 mosques, 5 churches and monasteries, 3 synagogues, 332 shops, 188 larger shops, 6 khans and 3 baths. In the early 1980s there were also hospitals, post offices, schools, hotels and consulates.

During this period, there were many merchants in the city, and trade grew. Until the 1980s, the larger transactions were made by Muslims and Christians; Jews were involved in petty transactions only. Traders came from different countries, but the prominent ones were Greeks and Germans.  From the 1980s onwards, Jewish immigration increased; some of these immigrants settled in Jaffa and opened large trading houses in the city or rented shops in or near the city markets.

Due to the accelerated development of neighborhoods around the Old City, the city walls were demolished in 1879. In 1887, Jews began to build neighborhoods outside the Old City and over the years neighborhoods such as Neve Tzedek, Neve Shalom (and even neighborhoods within Manshiya itself) were built. By 1904, when plans to construct  Ahuzat Bayit were under way, about five thousand Jews already lived in these neighborhoods. Due to these developments, countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Austria, USA and Spain began operating consulates. The Jaffa-Jerusalem Road was paved In 1869.  By 1892, there was a railroad between Jaffa and Jerusalem, which also accelerated growth.  At the beginning of the 19th century, there 1000-1500 inhabitants in Jaffa, including a few Jews. By the end of the century the population of Jaffa was 17,713, of whom 2,970 were Jews.

In 1886 a large stone building was erected to serve the port and in 1894, the new Customs House was built. During this period, the municipality also built outside the Old City. In 1897, the Saraya was built outside the Old City in Clock Square. In the same year, barracks were built as well as other public buildings. About three years later, the clock tower was erected in the square opposite the Saraya building. Notably, the Saraya building and the clock tower were built from donations of Jaffa residents of all faiths.

In this period, until the First World War, most of the development in the city was outside the walls of the Old City. As mentioned, at the end of the 19th century, the city walls were demolished, houses were built where the walls and moat once stood, the city gate and the adjacent fortress were destroyed, and markets took their place. The Old City houses and alleys remained unchanged.   In addition to the Customs House, a station for boats was installed at sea, and the wharf was expanded. During this period, the buildings on Bustros Street (today’s Raziel Street) were built, and the first Jewish neighborhoods were established outside the Old City. A German colony and other Arab neighborhoods were also established. In 1909, Tel Aviv was established, and additional Jewish neighborhoods around it.

In 1915, Jamal Pasha Street was paved which entailed demolishing buildings along it (today Jerusalem Blvd.). Washingtonia palm trees were planted by Mikve Israel students. Hassan Beck, then governor of Jaffa, demolished houses in the city center to open new streets; he paved areas and expanded existing ones. To repair the road leading to the port, Hassan Beck destroyed the ancient market built by Abu Nabbut and widened the street leading to it at the Jerusalem, Gaza and Nablus junction. During the war, Hassan Beck also widened the road that led to the port from the north, facilitating movement in this area.  On this site, the British laid a railroad that connected the port to the train station. This is the Ha’Aliyah Ha’Shniya promenade today located below Slope Park.

During the First World War, development in the city was halted. Many Jews were deported abroad or to the north of the country. In 1917, Eretz Yisrael, including Jaffa, fell to British hands, who ruled until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Jaffa continued to develop under British rule, there was also civil and political unrest, riots between Arabs and Jews and other events that led to partial destruction of the Old City. Jaffa lost its standing as the largest city in Eretz Yisrael to the new city of Tel Aviv.




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