A Brief History of Tel Aviv – The White City

While Tel Aviv may not be as ancient as nearby Jerusalem, or many European cities, it certainly boasts a rich history for those historically inclined. The city was founded as recently as 1909, but it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there is certainly plenty to see there.

The Early Days

As mentioned, Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, while the land was part of the Ottoman Empire. The city actually grew out of the neighbouring port city of Jaffa. Jaffa has been an important port for millennia, but it eventually became overcrowded and the living conditions harsh, forcing a group of recent Jewish immigrants to move out of the city and establish Tel Aviv.

As most immigrants arrived, particularly under the British Mandate, Tel Aviv continued to grow. It was granted city status in 1934 and by 1937 it had a population of over 150,000. The city’s inhabitants came from across Europe as people fled Hitler and the Second World War.

The White City

Many of the immigrants were German Jews and a significant number of them were architects trained at the Bauhaus, Germany’s modernist school of architecture. They brought the Bauhaus style with them to Tel Aviv and during the 1930s began to turn Tel Aviv into a ‘White City’, named so because of the bright colours of the building style. Today, Tel Aviv is home to over 5,000 Bauhaus buildings, the largest concentration in one city in the world, and it is thanks to this that the city is a World Heritage Site.

The city has gone to great effort to preserve and restore these buildings, and anyone interested in this period of architecture will find plenty to see.

The Establishment of the State

When Israel’s independence was declared (in Tel Aviv) the city had a population of over 200,000. It became the temporary government centre of the new State and since then has very much remained at the heart of modern Israel.

Today Tel Aviv is a secular and liberal city complete with culture, restaurants, nightlife, beaches, and much more. While it may be young, Tel Aviv has more than enough to offer.

Ben Solomon
Ben Solomon
Ben Solomon is originally from the UK but he has spent more than ten years living in Tel Aviv. During that time, he has enjoyed exploring all aspects of the city such as the nightlife, the cafes and restaurants, live music and more. He is also a keen writer and a massive supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.