Perversely, I have been too busy writing about Israel for work to write about it for the blog. The other complicating factor is that my visit to Jaffa was my favorite tourist site on the trip. The twisty alleys of this city feel ancient. That sense is deceptive; much of it was rebuilt by the Turks after Napoleon's bombardment and he was only of many conquerors this millennia-old port town has encountered. It resides above a hill to the south of Tel Aviv and was the historic entry port for Jerusalem.
I learned of its history on a museum tour beneath the town’s main courtyard. My timing was excellent; there were only two people on the tour and the guide had the knowledge to sate my curiosity. The second half of the museum was a multimedia-enhanced encounter with the archeological remains of prior civilizations. While Jaffa may be better known for Andromeda’s Rock and for Simon the Tanner’s hosting of Saint Peter, I was most charmed to hear a story of one of the city’s conquests. The local magistrate had broken away from the Egyptian empire when a colleague arrives to resupply him with scores of jar holding food and drink. Come night, their true contents were revealed as soldiers climbed out of their clay shelters and retook the city.
A perhaps more reliable bit of Jaffa history involved grave markers. Some of the city’s Jewish residents had been buried with a menorah carved into the grave cover. The design was what you see on right and had a tripod base.
That wasn’t the only distinctive marker I encountered; tile labels were embedded in the masonry work for many of the homes and stores. The one on the left sat above a monastery and provided some much needed softening for the hard metal door. As the cross indicates, Jaffa was the main place I encountered the other religions of the Holy Land. As previously mentioned, I passed a mosque on the way there and the city itself had a lovely cathedral, the tower of which you can see in the second photograph for this post.
After much wandering about and the tour, I was ready to take Guy’s brother’s sound advice and get lunch at Old Man and the Sea. That restaurant was a place to eat to excess - Guy would approve - and it is where I’ll pick up next post.