6 Interesting Things to See Near Jaffa Port

July 15th 2019

Noam.armonn [CC BY-SA 3.0]

It’s difficult not to feel the momentous history in the air when visiting Jaffa Port. Considered to be one of the oldest ports in the world, dating back 7000 years, it’s also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, most notably in the Book of Jonah. It’s long and varied history as a bustling port only came to end in the latter part of the 20th Century when the ports of Ashdod and Haifa grew in size and scope. 

The Port of Jaffa is still used by fisherman to this day and has also been developed as a popular tourist attraction and recreational zone. Many of the old hangers have been converted into exhibition spaces, restaurants, markets, and more. When strolling around the old port, you’ll get a sense of the ancient history of the site as well as be able to sample the delights of the local food and culture. 

And best still, the port is within short walking distance of more interesting things to see, including: 

The Old City

The Old City of Jaffa – the oldest part of Jaffa – is situated on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It forms the area where northern Jaffa meets southern Tel Aviv. Like most ancient cities, it has seen numerous civilizations, wars, destructions and rebuilds. Today, it’s home to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and features galleries, restaurants, and shops nestled in its many small and sometimes colorful alleyways. 

Illana Goor Museum

A short 5-minute walk from the Old Port is the Ilana Goor Museum. It was founded in 1995 by renowned Israeli artist Ilana Goor, who set up her gallery in what was once an inn housing pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. The 16th Century building was also formerly a synagogue and an olive oil soap factory. 

Today, the museum features more than 500 works by Goor and fellow artists, including paintings, sculptures, video art, and textiles. There are also many fascinating items she collected from her worldwide travels. 

The Smiling Whale Statue

Very near to the Ilana Goor Museum is an interesting statue that nods to the biblical history associated with Jaffa. The Smiling Whale Statue was designed by Goor in 1983 and portrays the whale in which Jonah spent three days and three nights. It was from Jaffa where Jonah set sail to Tarshish, before the fateful storm. 

The whale statue, part of a fountain, presents a nice photo opportunity if you’re visiting the museum and nearby galleries. 

St Peter’s Church

One of the most distinctive buildings you will see in Jaffa is St Peter’s Church. The towering bell tower can be seen from the entire city and is situated not far from the shore. In centuries past, the church tower which dominated the skyline would act like a beacon to Christian pilgrims sailing towards the Holy Land.  

Al Bahr Mosque

Another distinctive tower on the Jaffa skyline is that of minaret belonging to the Al Bahr Mosque (sometimes called the Sea Mosque). It’s a beautiful old building next to the Jaffa promenade and catches the sunlight well. The mosque is the oldest of its kind in Jaffa, dating from the 16th Century, and was popular with fishermen and sailors. 

Fountain Zodiac Signs

If you’re interested in astrology, then a little detour to the Fountain Zodiac Signs might be in order. Designed in 2011 by Israeli artists Varda Givoli and Ilan Gelber, the fountain features playful zodiac signs carved out of limestone. It’s modern art as opposed to classical, and is situated in an attractive square next to St Peter’s Church. Little kids love it.