Like the rest of the country, the shore strip combines the
old and the new in a uniquely Israeli juxtaposition. Neon
and chrome exist side by side with biblical and even
prebiblical ruins. And there's much to see and do on the
beaches of sand, pebbles, or rocks: Sports enthusiasts can
swim, fish, dive, boat, ski, or surf.
Seeing the Area
It's best to see the Golden Coast in sections: the southern
and central coasts are convenient to Tel Aviv and can also
be visited from Jerusalem; the north-central and northern
coasts are easily accessible from Haifa and the Galilee. The
water can be almost bathtub-warm in summer and swimming is
possible from April until November. In fact, in a February
heat wave, some visitors from northern climes may find the
Mediterranean near Tel Aviv as warm as the North Atlantic
ever gets in August.
Warning: On many days undertows and whirlpools develop that
not even the strongest swimmer can fight. Obey the
lifeguards! Be extremely wary about swimming in unguarded
areas if there is any wave activity.
56km (36 miles) S of Tel Aviv.
Ashkelon is the southernmost tourist stop along Israel's
Mediterranean shoreline, although beautiful beaches stretch
farther south. This thriving seaside town has grown up over
the ruins of civilizations buried in its sands for 25
centuries. One of the five Philistine city-states (the
others were Gath, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod), Ashkelon was an
important caravan stop. This is where Delilah supposedly
snipped Samson's hair and strength, and where Herod was
Exactly what happened at Ashkelon over the last 4,000 years
is a chapter of history still waiting to be written, since
ancient Ashkelon is only now being archeologically explored
in depth. Many civilizations and sand-covered cities of
antiquity lie buried here. Recent finds include perhaps the
oldest arched gateway in the world, and a Philistine winery
and bazaar. One of the most mysterious archeological
discoveries made here in recent years is an enormous
cemetery for dogs. Ashkelon was not primarily a Jewish city,
and the significance of dogs to the ancient non-Jewish
population is presently being pondered. At one point along
the shore, you'll see where a tentative longitudinal slice
has been made into the cliff, revealing a network of pillars
and caves several strata deep. Perhaps the most exciting
object recently uncovered is a tiny Canaanite silver calf,
probably a cult object, now on display at the Israel Museum.
Further excavations will most certainly reveal important
historical treasures, because the Bible mentions Ashkelon
After the Crusaders and Muslims fought over the city,
Ashkelon, like so many other places, fell into utter ruin.
Later, builders took the remains of Roman staircases,
Hellenistic pillars, and Crusader stonemasonry for building
materials in Jaffa and Acre.
Ashkelon is not a big town, but it's very spread out. A
large part of its population is composed of Jewish families
that came to Israel from North Africa in the 1950s and
1960s. Today the city is undergoing a major building boom as
it absorbs thousands of recent immigrants from the former
Soviet Union. Ashkelon has the perfect climate, blessed by
cool breezes from the sea, but modified by the dryness of
desert winds. Because Ashkelon is at the southern end of the
coast, you have the best chance of getting in some early
spring or late fall swimming here.
Egged bus no. 300 and 301, from Tel Aviv, arrives at the
Central Bus Station on Ha-Nitzahon in the newer part of town
(time: 1 hour). Frequency is about every half hour; last bus
is 9pm, or 2 hours before Shabbat on Friday. Your bus will
come into town from the highway on Ha-Nitzahon Road. You'll
pass by Migdal, the old city, on your right.
There are direct main highways from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The Government and Municipal Tourist Office (Phone 07/677-
0173 or 07/673-2412) is in the City Hall, Afridar Center,
behind the Bus Station. It's open Sunday and Tuesday from
8am to 1pm and 4 to 6pm; Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from
8am to 2pm. You can obtain up-to-date information on
everything from picnicking and camping in the beachside
national park to seasonal events, such as the Arts and
Crafts Fair in July or August.
Municipal Bus 5 serves Zepahania Square, the Afridar Center,
Bus Station, and the Pedestrian Mall in Migdal. Bus 6 serves
Afridar, the Ashkelon National Antiquities Park (near the
beach) and Migdal. It runs once an hour.
The part of town you must get to know is Afridar. In Afridar
Commercial Center, with its conspicuous Clock Tower, you
will find the Municipal Tourist Office, banks, shops,
restaurants, cafes, a cinema, and the small Ashkelon museum.
Early on during your stay in Ashkelon, check out Afridar
National Antiquities Park. Phone 07/673-6444. Free
admission; cars: NIS 12 ($3.40). Apr-Sept, daily 8am-7:30pm;
Oct-Mar Sat only 9am-4pm.
The highlights here are archeological sites. Walk south
along the sea, and you'll see bits and pieces of pillar and
column poking through the sand. Toward the end of the public
beach, a staircase leads into a park; walk through the park,
and you'll soon come upon the sunken arena ("Sculpture
Corner") that houses Ashkelon's handful of finds: a headless
Winged Victory supported on the shoulders of a childlike
Atlas, Isis and child, and grouped pieces of colonnade from
Herod's collection of carved capitals, "Stoa of a Hundred
Columns." There's also a refreshment stand here.
Painted Roman Tomb. Free admission. Daily.
Practically hidden in the sand dunes, this Roman burial cave
is just north of the Shulamit Gardens Hotel, on the beach.
The paintings hold romance and eternal springtime -- nymphs
reclining, marsh birds nesting in a stream thick with fish.
On the ceiling are nude children playing, greyhounds and
gazelles, birds, and clusters of grapes. The gods Apollo and
Demeter look down between the vines, assuring that the
deceased's physical, if not spiritual environment, would be
Ashkelon's main recreational attraction is the beach, and
there are several public beaches. Swim only if there is a
lifeguard present or at very shallow depths, since on all
but the calmest days the water can hide tricky currents. All
beaches are free and seldom crowded. My favorite beach areas
are about a quarter of a mile north of the Antiquities Park.
Where to Stay
Ashkelon charges its highest rates from mid-July to the end
of August, and during Passover and the September holidays.
This all has to do with Ashkelon's weather, a commodity that
local residents discuss with fanatic possessiveness. You
will probably be offered rain insurance: For every day it
rains, beginning on the second day of your stay, you get to
stay a day free -- breakfast included!
An inexpensive alternative to hotels is to stay in a private
home. Generally, this costs about $20 to $30 per night per
person, but can double during Jewish holidays and high
season weekends. To find out about home accommodations,
contact the tourist office, in Afridar Commercial Center
Shulamit Gardens Hotel. Shulamit Gardens, Ashkelon. Phone
07/671-1261. Fax 07/671-0066. 260 rms with baths. A/C TV
TEL. $170-$220 double. Breakfast included. MC, V.
A large, sprawling place with a heated outdoor swimming
pool, tennis courts, disco, and a synagogue. Guest rooms are
standard contemporary and the best available in Ashkelon,
though not special. Ask about off-season and midweek
discounts. Many guests are religiously observant.
Samson's Gardens (Ganei Shimshon). 38 Sonnebend (Ha-Tamar)
St., Afridar, Ashkelon. Phone 07/673-4666. Fax 07/673-9615.
26 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TEL. $50-$60 double.
On Jewish holidays, add $25 to higher rates. No credit
As the name suggests, this hotel is situated in a garden.
Rooms are very basic, but have terraces overlooking the
garden. Guests can use the pool at a nearby hotel at reduced
rates. Kosher meals are available. Ha-Tamar Street is right
off Darom Africa Boulevard, near the Municipal Gardens.
Ashkelon has a beautiful and extensive campground -- 15
acres of lawns dotted with trees and marble pillars, located
inside the seaside National Antiquities Park. Trailers,
tents, and simple wooden "bungalow" shelters are available
for hire year-round. Rates are $15 to $18 per person in
bungalows; $50 to $65 for two people in caravans (higher
rates are for air-conditioning). If you bring your own tent,
the fee is $6 per person. A receipt from the campground
exempts you from the park's car admission fee. There are two
to four beds in each bungalow; the large caravans (trailers)
can accommodate six; the smaller ones, four. The three
shower and toilet areas are ample. There are a grocery store
and a restaurant, or you may purchase bottled cooking gas
for your own equipment. Many of your fellow campers will be
Moroccan-Israeli families with fabulous food, spirit, and
For further information, you may write to the campsite at
Ashkelon Camping, P.O. Box 5052 (Phone 07/673-6777 or 07/673-
4027). Or contact the Israel Camping Union, P.O. Box 53,
Nahariya (Phone 04/992-3366). Members of the Israel or
International Camping Union will receive a 5% to 10%
discount on certain items. Take bus no. 3 or 9 to national
park. Follow the marked pathway to the campground.
Where to Dine
Down in Migdal, the old section of town, are various
lunch-counters, and there's one at the Central Bus Station
as well. With such limited dining possibilities, it's not
difficult to see why so many visitors arrange for half or
full board at their hotels.
Side Trips to Rehovot & Ashdod
There are two ways of heading north from Ashkelon. The
easier and faster way is along the coastal road, which
intentionally misses several of the population centers in
the region. The inner road, however, connecting with Gedera
-- once the northern tip of the Negev until Israeli farmers
pushed the desert back beyond Beersheva -- is well worth the
extra effort and time. You can reach Rehovot from Gedera,
and there's also a connecting road directly off the coastal
Either way, it's a short drive to Israel's foremost
scientific establishment, the Weizmann Institute of Science.
You enter through a gateway on Rehovot's main street, and as
soon as you're inside the grounds you'll feel as if you've
stepped into another world. This is a beautiful compound of
futuristic buildings, lawns of the deepest golf-course
green, lily ponds, and colorful gardens -- all, apparently,
for the spiritual satisfaction of the hundreds of scientists
from all over the world at work here.
Dedicated in 1949 in honor of Israel's first president
(himself an important chemist), the institute grew out of
the Daniel Sieff Research Institute, established in 1934.
Conducting both fundamental and applied research, the
Weizmann Institute also has a graduate school where about
700 students work for their masters degrees and doctorates.
On the grounds are the Wix Library, where there is an
exhibition on Dr. Weizmann's life, and the Wix Auditorium,
which presents audiovisual shows on the institute's
activities at 11am and 3:15pm daily (at 11am only on
The Weizmann House was built by Dr. and Mrs. Weizmann as
their residence in the 1930s, and is a wonderful example of
International Style domestic architecture. It is a dazzling,
streamlined interpretation of a Roman/Mediterranean atrium
house, the masterpiece of the German refugee architect, Eric
Mendelsohn, who also designed the original Hadassah Hospital
and Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The
interior of the house is marked by an airy, sinuous
staircase set in a stair tower lit with narrow vertical
windows; private living and reception wings with French
doors lead to a central pool patio. Another 1930s element,
round porthole windows, brings light into the house from
exterior walls. The furnishings were carefully designed by
Mendelsohn, who involved Dr. and Mrs. Weizmann personally in
the project. The house itself (like Washington's Mount
Vernon and Jefferson's Montecello) reveals much about the
personality of Dr. Weizmann, the world in which he lived,
and the international visitors he entertained. The Weizmann
House is open Sunday through Thursday from 10am to 3pm;
there are guided tours in a number of languages. At press
time, tours of the Weizmann House have been
suspended; to inquire about a house tour, call the Weizmann
Institute before your planned visit. Near the residence is a
simple tomb marking the Weizmanns' resting place and a
Memorial Plaza dominated by a Holocaust Memorial depicting
the Torah being snatched from flames.
A number of cafeterias at the institute serve light
Where to Dine
Pundak Ha'Osher Ha Sheshi (The Inn of the Sixth Happiness).
53 Herzl St. Phone 08/ 941-7477. Main courses NIS 28-48
($7.80-$13.50). DC, MC, V. Sun-Thurs 11am-9pm (last guests
served). YEMENITE ISRAELI.
Rehovot is not strong on fancy restaurants, but this
unpretentious place run by Mrs. Hannah Damari and her
daughters offers good home-style cooking with some exotic
Yemenite touches. There are well-prepared Middle Eastern
salads as well as a choice of hearty Yemenite vegetable and
meat soups. Main courses are grilled meats, fish and
poultry, but there may also be specials, like oven roasted
lamb. Yemenite l'huckh, a delicious, slightly rubbery flat
bread that's good with main courses, soups, and with jam and
honey, is on the menu, as is regular pita.
If you're traveling directly along the coast between Tel
Aviv and Ashkelon, you'll pass Ashdod, now surpassing Haifa
as Israel's largest and busiest port. Ashdod was one of the
main Philistine coastal cities, and it was to Ashdod that
the Philistines carried off the Ark of the Covenant in the
period of the Judges, before the time of King Saul (1 Samuel
5, 1-6). The Ark of the Covenant turned out to be a hot
potato for its Philistine captors: its mere presence in
Ashdod caused the idol of the Philistine god, Dagon, to fall
on its face and smash to bits inside its temple during the
night. Disease broke out in the city; in panic, the people
of Ashdod sent the Ark to the inland Philistine town of Gath
(modern Gat), and after misfortunes struck that community,
the Ark was sent back to the Israelites.
Present-day Ashdod is about 2 miles north of the ancient
site. It's a planned, sprawling city of 140,000, (and
growing by leaps and bounds with housing projects for recent
immigrants), filled with factories and apartment blocks. A
tourist information office is at 4 Haim Moshe Shapira St.,
Rova Daled (Phone 08/864-0090). Located as it is, along a
glorious strip of coastline, Ashdod is scheduled to develop
a tourist infrastructure sometime in the future, but for now
the main tourist attraction is Idi's, one of the most famous
seafood restaurants in Israel.
Idi. 6 Bosem St., Light Industrial Area, Ashdod Port. Phone
08/852-4313. Reservations necessary; 3 weeks in advance for
Thurs evening; 1 week in advance for Fri and Sat. Complete
dinner NIS 100-130 $28-$36.50); complete lunch NIS 100
($28). No credit cards. Daily noon-midnight. SEAFOOD.
People come to Idi (David Israelovits, chef and proprietor)
from as far away as Jerusalem and Herziliya for his fabulous
fixed price gustatory menu of fresh fish and seafood.
Travelers in this area who love seafood, or have a car, will
find Idi's a very worthwhile excursion. You'll have many
choices, but it is best to go with Idi's recommendation of
the day. The salad mezze, accompanied by home-baked Georgian
bread, is a wonderful collection of creations. The fish and
seafood bouillabaisse is famous, as are the deep-fried
calamari rings and saut³ed shrimp served in a pan of garlic
sauce. For a main course you'll be offered a selection of
grilled or broiled fish and also be served additional treats
from the kitchen, like calamari stuffed with mushrooms and
shrimp in a rich butter, garlic, and dill sauce or steamed
crab. Chocolate sorbet, halvah parfait, hot walnut pie, and
a heavenly black-and-white chocolate mousse are some of the
possible desserts. Decor is nautical, dress is informal.
Thursday nights feature live Greek music. The exact price of
a meal varies according to the catch of the day and Idi's
15km (10 miles) N of Tel Aviv.
Herzlia is one of Israel's most famous beach resorts. It was
founded in 1924 as an agricultural center, but has been
changed dramatically with the unexpected growth of Tel Aviv.
As that large Israeli metropolis grew northward, the beaches
of Herzlia suddenly became much more accessible and
Today when you're talking about Herzlia, you're talking
about luxury. The waterfront area is studded with fine
hotels and some of the country's most expensive villas; very
good restaurants abound (mostly inland). A disproportionate
number of foreign diplomats reside in Herzlia; their
neighbors are airline captains and other high-income
earners. Swimming here is better than in Tel Aviv, and many
Tel Avivans, as well as visitors, come up for a day of
beaching and a pleasant meal.
An Egged bus ride from Tel Aviv to Herzlia takes about 45
minutes; a special bus service run by United Tours connects
the Herzlia hotels with downtown and north Tel Aviv. From
Herzlia you take another bus to the beach. (If you tell the
bus driver that you want to go to the beach, he'll let you
out at the connecting bus stop near the highway, saving you
a trip into town.)
By CarHerzlia is on a main highway, 20 minutes north of Tel
Herzlia's sprawling layout is confusing for the first-time
visitor. The luxury Sharon Hotel, right on the beach, is a
major landmark. Inland just a block is De Shalit Square
(Kikar De Shalit), around which you'll find several moderate
hotels and inexpensive to moderate restaurants. Many fine
restaurant choices will be found inland at the New
This whole beachfront section of town is known as Herzlia
Petuah, to differentiate it from the inland city, on a hill
to the east. The Herzlia beach is lovely, but expensive by
Israeli standards. The best beaches are the Zebulun, near
the Holiday Inn Hotel; the Sharon, next to the Sharon Hotel;
and the Accadia, between the Dan Accadia and Daniel hotels.
Remember that a dangerous undertow exists, and swimming is
strictly prohibited when a lifeguard is not on duty.
Where to Stay
Dan Accadia Hotel. Herzlia on the Sea 46851. Phone 09/959-
7070. Fax 09/959-7090. 187 rms (all with bath). A/C MINIBAR
TV TEL. $180-$430 double; Chalet (Suites) extra. 15% service
charge. Rates include breakfast. Family plan and children's
rates. AE, DC, MC, V.
Located on the beach in the far southern part of town, this
relatively low rise resort hotel, built in 1956 and well
maintained, is set among lawns and gardens that center on
the pool area. A massive renovation of the hotel will be
complete by mid-1998. Standard rooms are a bit small, but
all have balconies (some of which may disappear in the
renovations; there are also deluxe chalet rooms and suites.
There are activities for children on weekends and during the
summer, poolside barbecues and dancing, and the management
can arrange horseback riding and access to the golf course
of the Dan Caesarea Hotel a half-hour drive to the north.
Discounts are available on the Dan Hotels 7-day plan.
Dining: Two restaurants, snack bars, coffee shop, bar.
Services/Facilities: 24-hour room service, massage,
hairdresser. Outdoor pool, six tennis courts, Jacuzzi, wet
and dry sauna, health club, shopping arcade, free parking.
Holiday Inn Crown Plaza. Herzlia on the Sea 46769. Phone
09/952-8282. Fax 09/952-8288. 200 rms (all with bath). A/C
TV TEL. $240-$450 double. Add 15% service charge. Rates
include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.
A 14-story tower complex right on the beach, totally
renovated in 1996 and near the central part of town, the
Holiday Inn offers the most in luxury: glistening public
areas with polished stone surfaces, curving staircases, and
mezzanines, announce luxury. A kosher Japanese restaurant,
the symbol of a top-flight hotel in Israel, is in the lobby.
There's a variety of rooms and suites, all fresh and new;
no-smoking and disability-access rooms are available.
Dining: Three restaurants.
Services/Facilities: Business Center; 24-hour room service,
beautician, bar. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, health
club, sauna, steam, massage and whirlpool rooms, children's
pool, children's playground and summer activities, tennis
courts, parking (fee).
Tadmor Hotel. 38 Basel St., Herzlia 46660. Phone 09/952-
5000. Fax 09/957-5124. 58 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C
TV TEL. $80-$120 double. Add 12% for high season. Off-season
discounts. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.
The Tadmor Hotel, a 5-minute walk to the beach, is an
Israeli institution. Hotel staffs from all over the country
train here, and chefs are cultivated and launched from the
Tadmor. To this end, the hotel has two in-house restaurants
and a good lunch buffet. The building has character; it
looks a bit like a desert fortress. Rooms are well
maintained and comfortable, but bathrooms are small. Large
gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fine park with a
children's playground are additional highlights.
To find the hotel, walk three blocks east of Shalit Square.
Driving from Tel Aviv, look for Basel Street to the left off
the main road.
Kibbutz Shefayim Guest House. Kibbutz Shefayim. Phone 09/959-
5595. Fax 09/959-5555. 166 rms (110 with bath, 56 with
shower). A/C TEL. $86-$166 double. AE, MC, V.
Right on the sea, a 10-minute drive north of Herzlia, the
location of this low-rise, modern kibbutz guest house has
put it in great demand with both Israelis and visitors. A
busy water park containing a swimming pool with waves and
slides, open to the public, is another attraction,
especially for families with children; it's open mid-April
to mid-October. The grounds of the kibbutz are especially
extensive, and include wild, sandy paths along the top of
cliffs overlooking the sea, and a beach that's good for
bathing on calm days -- when the sea is even mildly rough,
the presence of rocks in the water makes for hazards. Always
check for the hours when lifeguards are on duty. At times, a
kibbutz tractor brings guests up and down the cliff to the
beach, a welcome aid on hot summer days.
It's on the main Tel Aviv-Haifa highway; look for exit sign
Where to Dine
The best place to look for inexpensive meals is in De Shalit
Square (Kikar De Shalit), a pleasant little plaza surrounded
by snack shops, ice cream parlors, and small restaurants
catering to locals and the beach crowd alike. You'll find
more expensive, inventive restaurants in the building
complexes of Herzlia's New Industrial Center, inland from
the beach, near the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway. In fact, people
from all over Israel come here for some of the best dining
experiences in the country! All of our restaurant choices
here are worth a star and, with the exception of Tandoori
and Picasso, (which have branches in Tel Aviv) they're all
worth a trip from Tel Aviv.
Atlantis. 32 Maskit St., Industrial Center. Phone09/956-
8959. Reservations recommended. Complete fixed-price dinners
NIS 85-150 ($23.80-$42); fixed-price lunch from NIS 65
($18.20). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon-1am. FISH AND SEAFOOD.
Managed by the owners of the fine Tandoori chain, Atlantis
is an inventive gourmet restaurant with a graduated menu of
complete dinner choices. In the most modest menu, you might
begin with an interesting crepe as a first choice, and go on
to steamed crab with fresh herbs or a baked catch of the
day. More ambitious menus might start with terrine of salmon
with black caviar, and continue with grilled shrimp and
mussels served on a bed of basmati rice; or medallion of
foie gras on a bed of sweet red potatoes with caramel mango
sauce. Fixed menus include dessert and coffee; ö la carte
choices are available.
Taverna. Dan Accadia Hotel Beach Promenade. Phone 09/959-
7107. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 50-100 ($14-
$28). AE, DC, MC, V. Sun-Thurs 6pm-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-
Right on the beach, with an outdoor dining terrace and a
beautiful view of the sunset, this is a pricey but easygoing
restaurant with an ambience of ceiling fans and sea breezes
and a wide selection of seafood, fish, and meat. For
appetizers, try the interesting Greek/Mediterranean array of
small salads (mezedes) for about $3 to $5 each. You can also
have light courses like goat cheese mousse, a plate of
little fried fishes, or foie gras in onions and raisins, all
in the $7 to $12 range. Among main courses, you'll find a
changing daily menu including items like fried mullet in
chile and lemon sauce, salmon trout in coriander and cream,
fried mussels, or prawns diablo. There's also a selection of
lamb, beef, and chicken. With its fine view, this is a good
place to come off-hours just for coffee and dessert or
Black Steer Grill House. 3 Yohanan Ha Sandlar St., Herzlia
Industrial Area. Phone 09/955-7464. Reservations necessary.
Main courses NIS 40-100 ($11.20-$28); business lunches NIS
40-50 ($11.20-$14). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon-midnight.
SOUTH AFRICAN STEAKHOUSE.
The best steak restaurant in the Tel Aviv area, the Black
Steer is part of a famous South African chain with branches
in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Australia. Choose from a variety
of grilled steaks, spare ribs, and chicken, all served with
tasty South African-style marinades. The business lunches,
served from noon to 5pm are unbeatable deals; whenever you
dine, you'll have excellent value and a filling meal. There
are vegetarian choices. Free parking.
Churrascaria Brasiliera. 29 Maskit St., on the 2nd floor of
the Industrial Center Building. Phone 09/951-2314.
Reservations necessary. All-you-can-eat dinner NIS 90
($25.20); all-you-can-eat lunch NIS 50 ($14). AE, DC, MC, V.
Daily noon-1am. BRAZILIAN.
At this comfortable restaurant, you help yourself to a salad
bar and a buffet of wonderful hot side dishes and when you
return to your table, you are approached by roving waiters
armed with spits of freshly grilled sausages, rare
entrecªte, and shoulders of beef, lamb, chicken, fish,
livers, hearts: As much as you want will be sliced onto your
plate, accompanied by wonderful Argentinean and Brazilian
sauces. The carnival of meats is endless, followed by
excellent homemade ice creams. To all this is added a live
Brazilian show at 9:30 each night except Sunday and Tuesday.
The lunch extravaganza is only slightly less stupendous. A
24-hour fast before and after visiting here is advisable.
Dona Flor. 22 Ha-Galim St., New Industrial Center. Phone
09/950-9669. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 42-
70 ($11.80-$19.60). AE, MC, V. Sun-Thurs noon-4pm and 7pm-
midnight; Fri noon-4pm. Closed Sat.
White walls, terra-cotta tile floors, earthenware dishes,
and an open-walled kitchen all contribute to the rustic
South American feel of this place. The food, too, has a
light touch of exoticism: Nothing is overpoweringly strange,
but every dish is unusual and delicious. Among the
interesting house appetizers are marinated fish in lemon,
orange, and dill; phyllo pastry in pepper sauce stuffed with
smoked chicken and vegetables; a fabulous dish of smoked,
sliced veal brain with pecan; and a number of unusual
salads. Main courses include smoked lamb chops cooked in
pistachio sauce, steamed trout in lemon and mustard sauce,
sea bass in vetapa (coconut-tomato-peanut) sauce, and
chicken escaloppes in a vinaigrette of honey with pearl
onions. Main courses come with steamed vegetable, rice or
potato, or carrot french fries. The dessert list, too, is
Picasso. 1 Ha-Etzel St., Herzliya Pituach. Phone 09/956-
6888. Reservations recommended. Light meals NIS 25-42 ($7-
$11.80); main courses NIS 42-75 ($11.80-$21). AE, DC, MC, V.
Daily 8am-2am. CONTINENTAL.
This branch of Tel Aviv's quintessential stylish but
moderately priced restaurant offers an exciting, intelligent
menu. Seafood, poultry, fish, and meat dishes, as well as
enormous hot and cold salads, all presented in unusual ways,
have made this a smash hit. New surprises are always being
added to the menu including a line of healthful low-calorie
choices that don't sacrifice Picasso's much admired verve
and joie de vivre. The large rooftop bar is an additional
Tandoori. Mercazim Building, 5 Maskit St., New Industrial
Center. Phone 09/546-702. Reservations recommended. Main
courses NIS 22-60 ($6.20-$16.80). 10% service charge. AE,
DC, MC, V. Daily 12:30-3:30pm and 7pm-1am.
This is the most opulent of the fine restaurants in the
Tandoori chain, with twin curved marble staircases leading
to the upper dining area, and decorative silver and enamel
work imported from Jaipur. As in all the Tandoori/Kohinoor
restaurants, the traditional Indian dishes you'll find here
are prepared with a special lightness and elegance. I
especially liked the sabzi jalfrezi, a very modestly priced
dish of vegetables lightly steamed and then quickly
dry-saut³ed with ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, and fresh
mustard. The boneless tandoori chicken dishes are my
favorites, especially chicken tikka masala, but the whole
range of lamb and fish choices is also superb. It's
worthwhile trying the traditional Indian home-style
desserts, and you should know that the Tandoori chain is
famous for its cocktails. The entire experience is one of
tranquillity and elegance, yet the price is reasonable.
Crocodile. Kikar De Shalit. Phone 03/957-0762 or 03/957-
5026. Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 38-75
($10.60-$21); salad bar NIS 33 ($9); fixed-price dinner NIS
50 ($14). MC, V. Daily noon-midnight or later.
In an expensive town like Herzlia, Crocodile is an
attractive oasis of good, reasonably priced food; I place it
in the inexpensive range because of the salad bar and
fixed-price dinner options. The luxurious salad bar includes
a selection of 25 interesting fresh salads, plus four hot
vegetable dishes that range from a daily Asian stir-fry to a
Saturday vegetarian bean cholent, or Sabbath casserole. The
fixed-price Deal of the Week includes the salad bar, soup,
your choice of one of five main courses, and coffee or tea
-- one of the town's great bargains. The place has a garden
feel, with style enhanced by green tablecloths, candles, and
tables that offer a more private ambience. The specials
bring Crocodile into the inexpensive range, but those
ordering ö la carte will find this restaurant more in the
moderate range. There's an $8 complete children's meal.
34 kilometers (21 miles) N of Tel Aviv.
Netanya is regarded as the capital of the Sharon Plain, the
rich and fertile citrus-grove area stretching from the
outskirts of Tel Aviv to Caesarea. Perched on verdant cliffs
overlooking the Mediterranean, it is also the center of
Israel's diamond industry.
Founded in 1929 as a citrus center, the seaside town has for
many years been a popular holiday place for Israelis. Over
the years visitors (especially long-term visitors and senior
citizens) have been joining them, for they've discovered
that Netanya is quiet and convenient, geared to service, and
in easy reach of several areas, including Tel Aviv and
Caesarea. It's a sizable city, with all sorts of cafes,
hotels, and shops -- but the real appeal remains the sunny
beach and easygoing pace. (Note: Those with walking problems
may find the stairs up and down the cliff to Netanya's
beaches something of an obstacle.) Those who decide to rent
an apartment and stay in Netanya for a month or more will
find the local English speaking community extremely well
organized. The population of Netanya has grown by more than
a fifth in recent years with an influx of new immigrants
from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, so Netanya
has more of a European flavor than other Israeli cities.
A handsome park parallels the beach -- and the coast itself
has become popular with Scandinavian visitors who take dips
in December and January. Most everybody else waits until
April or May, when the weather is almost perfect.
Several express buses operate between Netanya and Jerusalem.
Connections are available from Haifa, and there is regular
bus service from Tel Aviv. Netanya buses (no. 601 or 605)
leave Tel Aviv about every 15 minutes during the day until
7pm. The last bus to Tel Aviv departs at 11pm.
There is a main coastal highway that connects Tel Aviv and
The Tourist Information Office (Phone 09/882-7286) is in a
little modern kiosk at the southeastern corner of
Independence Square. Hours are 8:30am to 6pm on Sunday to
Thursday; from 9am to noon on Friday. Winter hours may be
shorter. This office is especially helpful, and will answer
questions about Netanya or other places in Israel. Be sure
to pick up a copy of the monthly booklet listing special
events, entertainment, and services in Netanya. If you're
traveling by bus, you might also want to pick up their bus
timetable, which you might find clearer than the information
you'll get at the station.
Netanya closes down between 1 and 4pm every day, so plan to
shop or go to the bank before or after the afternoon siesta.
Many international social clubs hold regular meetings in
Netanya, including Rotary, Lions, Hadassah, Freemasons,
International Toastmistress, Pioneer Women, and B'nai
B'rith. Ask at the tourist office, or see the listings in
the free guides to Netanya for times and places. Open House
for Visitors is held every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
from 9:30 to 11:30am, at the British Olim Society, 7
Ha-Matmid St., and also on Wednesday at 4pm at the WIZO
House, 13 MacDonald St. (Phone 09/882-3192). The Association
of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), at 28 Shmuel
Ha-Naziv St., Phone 09/833-0950, offers a good schedule of
lectures and other social activities.
If you'd like to meet an Israeli citizen, apply 3 days in
advance at the tourist office and you'll soon find yourself
invited to a home for a friendly chat and a cup of coffee.
In late July, there is a 1-week art exhibit on Ha-Atzma'ut
Square (Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 to 11pm; closed Friday;
Saturday from 8:30pm to midnight). The city sponsors free
evening concerts and events throughout the summer. A chess
tournament is held in Netanya yearly during May and June;
every 2 years there's an international match. Games start at
3:30pm and last until 10pm. For further information, contact
the tourist information office.
During Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), there are 4 free
evenings of folklore in Ha-Atzma'ut Square, featuring the
various ethnic groups living in Israel, with dance, song,
and typical traditional snacks.
Netanya is a big town, but it's not really difficult to find
your way around. The main coastal highway is known as the
Haifa Road. Coming north on Haifa Road from Tel Aviv, you
will see the exit for Netanya, which will get you onto Herzl
Street, Netanya's main east-west boulevard. At the beginning
of Herzl Boulevard, not far from the coastal highway, you'll
pass the large Kanion (indoor shopping mall).
About six blocks down the street is the Central Bus Station,
where Herzl meets Weizmann and Benyamin boulevards. Another
six blocks along Herzl and you're in the great expanse of
Ha-Atzma'ut Square, by the sea in the very heart of Netanya.
Most of the hotels and restaurants recommended below are
within a few blocks of the square.
The square, the town's pedestrian promenade, has been
enlarged in recent years, and now extends up Herzl Street
all the way to Dizengoff Street.
Around Ha-Aztma'ut Square you'll find everything you need,
including the Tourist Information Office, banks, ATM
machines, places to change money, a post office, and
eateries of many kinds as well as pubs, discos, cinema,
hotels, and more. Be warned that since the center of Netanya
was not designed for a population of almost 200,000, parking
is a serious problem, and parking regulations are enforced
with draconian rigor!
Beaches, Sports & Other Outdoor Pursuits
BEACHES & WATER SPORTS
The main attraction at Netanya is, of course, the lovely
beach, and you'll have perfect beach weather here more than
75% of the year. The water is great for swimming -- you can
go out pretty far before it starts to get deep. There's a
lifeguard on duty, and do swim in the approved area; it's
posted not to swim beyond a certain point. In addition to
sand, swimming, and sun, you can enjoy the attractions in
the beach complex, with restaurants and snack shops, beach
chairs, large public umbrellas, a basketball court, and a
gymnastics field. You'll see people fishing up on the rocky
breakwater. Surfing and sailboarding can be arranged at the
Kontiki Club down on the Netanya beach -- lessons, too --
open daily from 8:30am until sunset.
Of course it's beautiful to see the sun set into the
Mediterranean, and in the high tourist season, student
patrols keep watch to make sure everything is okay. The
lifeguards leave the beach in the late afternoon. Still, be
cautious at night here; stay where you see other people,
especially if you're a woman alone. During the winter when
the student patrols are not around, it's not a good idea to
hang around the beach or the parks on the cliffs at night.
If you have a car, you might want to drive to sheltered
Mikmoret Beach, about 7 or 8 miles north toward Caesarea. It
goes on for miles, and is a great place for walking. There
are lifeguards, and other facilities; parking is $2.40 per
person, but the fee is deducted from your bill if you eat a
meal at the beach's restaurant.
HORSEBACK RIDING & OTHER SPORTS
Riding is available at two locations. The Ranch (Phone
09/866-3525), near Havezelet Ha-Sharon Village, has
horseback riding daily from 8am until sunset; take bus no.
17 or 29 from the Central Bus
Station. There's also the Cactus Ranch (Phone 09/865-1239),
open daily from 8am until sunset.
Bicycle rentals can be arranged at the Hotel Promenade
(Phone 09/862-6450). Paragliding can be arranged through the
aptly named Ariba (Phone 09/834-9679).
Nature Walks & Hiking
The Poleg Nature Reserve, 8 kilometers south of Netanya,
offers an interesting hike along the Poleg River, upstream
from the point where it meets the sea. The riverbanks are
lined with giant eucalyptus trees, planted almost a century
ago to help drain the swamps that had developed throughout
the plain of Sharon (eucalyptus seedlings were imported from
Australia by early Jewish settlers, who valued their ability
to withstand drought). In winter and early spring, the
wildflowers along the route have made the Poleg Reserve a
favorite destination for botanists. Unfortunately, the Poleg
River has become seriously polluted, a situation not unusual
in the intensively developed coastal plain. Recently, the
Mediterranean beach has been closed to swimming, and the
river water itself will probably be off-limits to visitors.
The Iris Nature Reserve, at the southern edge of Netanya, is
a sanctuary for wild and cultivated irises. There is an
adjacent pond that attracts seaside birds and waterfowl.
Elitzur Sports Center (Phone 09/865-2931) has a heated
swimming pool and features squash and tennis. The center is
at the end of Radak Street (take bus no. 8 from the Central
Bus Station). It is open daily from 6 or 8am until 5 to 10pm
(call to check which hours are on what days). The Wingate
Institute (Phone 09/863-9523) also has a swimming pool, as
do many Netanya hotels.
Visiting a Diamond Factory
Israel is the number-one spot in the world for cutting and
polishing diamonds, and Netanya is Israel's number-one
diamond center, with two large factories. If you're in the
market to buy, you can probably save about 20% by buying
here. Even if you're not interested in buying, a visit to
the National Diamond Center, 90 Herzl St. (Phone 09/862-
0436), could still be an unusual experience. Telephone for
information about the center's interesting and pressure-free
tours. The Tourist Information Office can direct you to
additional diamond industry tours in Netanya.
Where to Stay
In most cases, you needn't go far out of Ha-Atzma'ut Square
to find a hotel. Netanya is oriented toward warm-weather
vacationers and prices are seasonal, and even inexpensive
hotels can charge moderate to expensive rates during high
season. Generally speaking, high season is from early July
to the end of August, plus Jewish holidays, and low season
is November to February; between these times the prices will
be somewhere between the high- and low-season rates.
Be sure to check for heating and/or air-conditioning, if you
think you'll need them, depending on the weather and the
season. In winter, days can be balmy but nights can get
chilly. By the way, all of Netanya's hotel kitchens are
North of Ha-Atzma'ut SQUARE
Rehov Ha-Melekh David is the main street going north out of
Ha-Atzma'ut Square, close to the beach.
Mercure Blue Bay Hotel. 37 Hamelachim St., Netanya. Phone
09/860-3603. Fax 09/833-7475. 196 rms (all with bath or
shower). A/C TV TEL. $90-$180 double. Rates include
breakfast. 15% service charge. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus 29.
The most northern of the town's hotels, the Blue Bay offers
hourly shuttle service into the center of Netanya. Away from
the sometimes busy tempo of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, this Mercure
hotel is one of the largest in town. Much renovation has
been done over the past few years. Facilities include a
swimming pool (heated in winter), a new fitness room with
sauna and Jacuzzi, restaurant, disco, bar, and a floodlit
tennis court. There's a resort feel here; rooms have video
players, and you can arrange bicycle rentals and in-room
Seasons Hotel. Nice Blvd., Netanya. Phone 09/860-1555. Fax
09/862-3022. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 85 rms (all with
bath). A/C TV TEL. $140-$260 double; higher rates for deluxe
rms and suites. Rates include breakfast and service. AE, DC,
Until the advent of the Carmel Hotel at the southern edge of
Netanya, the Seasons was the city's top hotel. Guest rooms
are large, with balconies and sea view; suites are very
comfortable. Much of the hotel was renovated in 1994-95.
Facilities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis
court, three restaurants, and free parking. A
refrigerator/minibar is available on request.
Maxim Hotel. 8 King David St., Netanya 42264. Phone 09/862-
1062. Fax 09/862-0190. 90 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL.
$90-$160 double. AE, DC, MC, V.
The Maxim Hotel is the equivalent of a four-star
establishment, and has a swimming pool and bar. Over half
the guest rooms are extra-sized, and at the top of the price
range. Major renovations in 1997 have spruced up and
freshened the facilities.
Hotel Ginot Yam. 9 King David St., Netanya 42264. Phone
09/834-1007. Fax 09/861-5722. 54 rms (all with bath or
shower). A/C TV TEL. $50-$100 double. Rates include
breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.
On the left as you stroll up King David Street, this
three-story building near the Bialik intersection is
literally a stone's throw from the sea. Rooms have heat,
wall-to-wall carpeting, and radios among other amenities,
and there's a small snack bar/restaurant.
South of Ha-Atzma'ut Square
On the south side of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, several main
streets and side streets will lead you to hotel choices that
are only a short walk from the beach and from the busy
La Promenade Apartment Hotel. 6 Gad Machnes St., Netanya.
Phone 09/862-6450. Fax 09/862-6450. 2 apts with bath or
shower. A/C TV TEL. $115-$180 double. Up to 5 people, add
$15-$25 per person. Rates include breakfast. 15% service
charge. AE, DC, MC, V.
Built in the early 1990s, this is the best of Netanya's
apartment hotels. Apartments are sleek, with polished marble
floors and contemporary decor; all have kitchenettes and
balconies. There is an indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi,
room service, and free parking. The location is in the
center of things, close to Ha-Atzma'ut Square and the beach.
Monthly rates are available.
Residence Hotel. 18 Gad Machnes St., Netanya. Phone 09/862-
3777. Fax 09/862-3711. Web site www.inisrael.com/zyvotels.
96 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $60-$140
double. Rates include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V.
Billing itself as "Netanya's most luxurious three-star
hotel," the Residence is building its clientele by offering
cut-rate prices for people staying a 1-week minimum. Most of
the rooms have balconies and spectacular views of the sea.
Since the hotel is eight stories tall, if you get an upper
room you'll really have a bird's-eye view. There are special
reduced rates for June, September, and November 1 to 15. The
Residence Hotel is part of the Zyvotel Chain, with a number
of properties in Netanya; guests can use the nearby
Blueweiss Hotel's spa and health club for an $8 fee; or the
Jacuzzi and sauna at the nearby Hotel Galil.
Galei Ha-Sharon Hotel. 42 Ussishkin St., Netanya 42273.
Phone 09/834-1946. Fax 09/ 833-8128. 24 rms (all with
showers). A/C. $45-$75 double. MC, V.
Those looking for a modern hotel with a decent location and
reasonable prices might try this place at the corner of Gad
Machnes. Although it's small, the Galei Ha-Sharon somehow
achieves a surprising feeling of spaciousness. The rooms,
while not luxurious, are adequate -- all with shower in the
bathroom, shuttered balcony, and wall-to-wall carpet.
There's also a cozy bar beside the lobby.
Margoa. 9 Gad Machnes St., Netanya 42279. Phone 09/862-4434.
Fax 09/862-3430. 64 rms (all with bath or shower.) A/C TV
TEL. $65-$100 double. AE, MC, V.
Just a short distance from the information kiosk is the
Hotel Margoa -- actually two Hotel Margoas, the Margoa "A"
on your left and the Margoa "B" on your right, by the sea.
For either hotel, the reception, as well as the dining, are
done at the Margoa A. Rooms come with heat, air
conditioning, and wall-to-wall carpeting. Some of the rooms
in Margoa A have balconies.
Carmel Hotel. Jabotinsky St,. Netanya. Phone 09/860-1111,
or 09/860-1170 reservations. Fax 09/860-1166, or 09/860-1171
reservations. 190 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $115-$275
double; highest rates for deluxe rms and suites; . Rates
include breakfast. 15% service charge. AE, DC, MC, V.
Built in 1994, this high-rise hotel on a now quiet stretch
of beach (slated to become a luxury resort center) 2 miles
south of downtown Netanya, is the city's only
five-star-equivalent hotel; it has set a new standard for
luxury in Netanya. Public areas are busy, rooms are fresh
and attractive. Like much of Netanya, the hotel is located
on a cliff above the beach -- getting down to the beach can
be a problem, although an elevator service is planned.
Facilities include a large swimming pool, heated in winter,
a health club, sauna, steam bath, Jacuzzi, children's
programs in summer and holidays, and a variety of
restaurants and pubs. There are ample parking facilities
(always at a premium in Netanya); refrigerators and minibars
are available on request.
Private Rooms & Apartments
One of the best ways to save money on accommodations,
particularly if you plan to stay in Netanya for some time,
is to rent a private room or apartment. The actual rental
arrangements will generally be handled by local agents, and
you'll have to pay an agent's fee, which is a flat 10% of
the total rental (no extra charge if meal arrangements are
Room rentals are available for at least 3 to 4 days,
apartments for a week or more. Most of them are within
walking distance of the sea. Rooms in private homes come
with sheets and blankets, and no meals are served, though
guests may use the refrigerator and stove. The cost is about
$30 to $40 per person in summer; prices go up on weekends
and holidays and are lower off-season.
Apartments are provided with basic furniture. The place is
cleaned up before you arrive, but upkeep is on you for the
length of your stay. What is known as a two-room flat
(living room, one bedroom, kitchen, bath, balconies) costs
about $800 to well over $1,000 per couple per month. A
three-room flat (two-plus bedrooms) costs $900 to over
$1,500 per month. A four-room flat (three-plus bedrooms)
would cost at least $1,600 for the same period; deluxe
accommodations, of course, could be more. Bear in mind that
these are summer rates, and that demand will probably drive
these prices up during the lifetime of this edition. The
supply of apartments may also be a problem.
Consult the Municipal Tourist Information desk at
Ha-Atzma'ut Square (Phone 09/882-7286) for listings of
private room and apartment rental agents.
Where to Dine
You'll want to try one of the many little sidewalk
cafe-restaurants that line Ha-Atzma'ut Square. Here you can
find just about anything your heart desires, and if it's not
here, it's only a short walk along Herzl Street.
Lucullus. 2 Jabotinsky St. Phone 09/861-9502. Fixed-price
lunch $17; fixed-price dinner $21. MC, V. Daily noon-3pm and
This is probably the best and most stylish restaurant in
town, and the place for a special meal. Tables are candlelit
and decorated with fresh flowers, there's dance music on
Fridays, and often a pianist at the bar in the evenings.
Bernard Gabai, the owner of Lucullus, was born in Tunisia,
and he has created a menu heavily influenced by French
tradition. First courses include choices like mousse of
salmon and crevettes or pät³ de foie gras; main course
choices include fresh fish, calamari, shrimp, and lobster as
well as filet mignon, goose liver, duck, and even
chateaubriand. If you choose from the ö la carte menu, a
complete dinner with wine could run well over $30 per
person. Lucullus is located in the southern part of town,
somewhat away from Ha-Atzma'ut Square. When you call for
reservations, ask about the restaurant's free taxi service
policy. Lucullus has a kosher branch, Locus, at 5
Ha-Atzma'ut Square (Phone 09/861-7831), with a similar
French menu adapted to kashruth restrictions.
"Ha-Nassi" President Restaurant and Cafe Bar. 5 Herzl St.
Phone 09/861-7147. Full meal NIS 40-75 ($11-$21). MC, V.
Sun-Thurs 11am-midnight or 2am; Fri 11am to 1 hour before
Sabbath; Sat 11am-2pm. Reserve and prepay for Sabbath meal.
This local institution is a glatt kosher restaurant
specializing in traditional Jewish dishes, freshly
redecorated. It offers a multitude of meats from the grill
or the oven. The house specialty is the Saturday meal, a
traditional Shabbat feast, served from 11am to 2pm for $14,
which must be paid in advance.
Apropo Netanya. Gan Ha Melech. Phone 09/862-4482.
Reservations recommended for summer and holiday evenings.
Main courses NIS 25-60 ($7-$16.80). 12% service charge. AE,
DC. Sun-Thurs 9am-midnight; Fri 9am-2pm; Sat after Shabbat
to midnight. EUROPEAN/INTERNATIONAL.
In a modern, glass pavilion overlooking the sea at the far
end of Ha-Atzma'ut Square, this restaurant serves the most
cosmopolitan menu in town, ranging from large salads to
pastas, blintzes, bagels and lox, and a list of appetizers
and main courses prepared with a very tasty touch of Thai
style. You can order salmon trout steamed with fine herbs,
in a mildly Thai fashion, or have a genuine Thai soup, or
kosher fried sesame-coated faux "shrimp." A selection of
lavish kosher pastries and cakes makes this a good stop for
coffee and dessert.
Conditory Espresso Ugati. 1 Herzl St. Phone 09/882-2607.
Breakfast NIS 16.50 ($5); desserts and light meals NIS 15-25
($4.50-$7.50). No credit cards. Sun-Thurs 8am-midnight; Fri
8am-3pm; Sat 6pm-midnight. CAFE.
A Central European pastry shop that is just perfect for
devotees of the creamy confections favored in Berlin and
Vienna. Stop in for afternoon tea or after-dinner coffee --
and a pastry from the refrigerator case out front. You can
get espresso here, special apple pie or strudel for
diabetics, and if you'd like brandy with your blintzes, they
have that, too.
Pundak Ha-Yam Grill. 1 Ha-Rav Kook St. Phone 09/861-5780.
Main courses NIS 20-45 ($6-$13.50). MC, V. Reservations not
accepted. Sat-Thurs noon-midnight; Fri noon-3:30pm. GRILL.
A plain, no-nonsense grill with meats sizzling, hard-working
waiters, and a minimum of decor, it is nonetheless a top
favorite with locals. Reasons? The grilled meats are
prepared to your order, before your eyes; service is quick,
portions are good, and prices are moderate. Order shashlik,
steak, heart, or liver, and you'll get a salad, french
fries, a plate of spaghetti, and several rounds of flat
bread, too. For noncarnivores, there are interesting salads.
Yotvata. Ha-Atzma'ut Square Phone 09/862-9141. Light meals
NIS 17-25 ($4,80-$7); main courses NIS 25-60 ($7-$16.80).
AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 8am-1am. DAIRY VEGETARIAN.
One of the best-quality dairy and vegetarian restaurants in
the country, Yotvata has everything brought in fresh from
the famous Yotvata Kibbutz down in the Negev. Giant servings
of natural juices made from your choice of 15 different
kinds of fruits are available as well as blintzes, vegetable
pies, pasta dishes in cream sauces, cheesecakes, and great
ice cream, all done with style. Saint Peter's fish rounds
out the top end of the menu's price range.
Netanya After Dark
There's no problem finding plenty of things to do around
Netanya after a day at the beach. Everything in Ha-Atzma'ut
Square is open until around midnight or later, and the
square is alive with strollers, sippers, diners, and
people-watching cafe-sitters on a warm evening.
Be sure to check with the Tourist Information Office and the
weekly calendar in the Tel Aviv section of Friday's
Jerusalem Post for special events, performances, and
activities of all kinds, including the weekly activities at
the AACI, the Women's International Zionist Organization
(WIZO), and the British Olim Society. There's quite a lot
going on, especially during the summer months. Each week, in
the amphitheater in Gan Ha-Melekh Park, which runs along the
beachside cliffs just north of the square, there are
community sings, screenings of free full-length feature
films, and classical and light music (performed Sunday to
Thursday from 5:45pm until sunset). There's also
entertainment in Ha-Atzma'ut Square by top Israeli singers
and folklore groups as well as community folk dancing every
Saturday, beginning at 8pm. Weekly programs for children
start at 6:30pm, with magicians, clowns, and so on.
Since Netanya is a resort town, with a seasonal turnover in
clubs and discos, it's best to check about current choices
with the well-informed tourist office at HaAtzma'ut Square.
Bridge is often sponsored by WIZO on alternate Wednesday
evenings; Bingo evenings at the Association of Americans and
Canadians in Israel, 28 Shmuel Ha-Naziv St. (Phone 09/833-
0950), are Sunday at 8pm.
40km (25 miles) N of Tel Aviv; 49km (30 miles) S of Haifa;
16km (10 miles) N of Netanya.
This is one of my favorite places in Israel. It has recently
been the scene of a lot of activity and development -- a
luxury hotel, a golf course, and a country club, as well as
Caesarea's beautiful excavations give you a real feeling for
the tide of history that has washed Israel's shores. Located
about a third of the way from Tel Aviv to Haifa, behind a
cluster of banana groves, Caesarea is the spectacular city
of Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.), who set out to construct a
port to rival Alexandria. It was Herod who enlarged and
beautified the town, adding a spectacular harbor and naming
the city in honor of his Roman suzerain and benefactor,
Augustus Caesar. By the time of Herod's death, Caesarea was
one of the grandest port cities of the eastern
Caesarea was the headquarters of Roman rule in Israel, and
figures prominently in the story of the apostle Paul: he was
warned not to go to Jerusalem; he went anyway, returning to
Caesarea in chains to stand trial for heresy. The Jews
increasingly resented the Roman militaristic domination of
their land, and tensions came to a head in A.D. 60-70 when
pogroms against the Jewish population began, culminating in
the brutal massacre of 2,000 Jews in the Caesarea
amphitheater. All Judea subsequently rose in revolt and the
Romans retaliated by destroying Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and
conquering Masada in A.D. 73. In A.D. 132, the rebellion of
Bar Kokhba brought another massacre, and the greatest sages
of the time, including Rabbi Akiva, were brought to the
amphitheater of Caesarea, tortured in public, and burned
Under the Byzantines, the city's history was less grisly.
Caesarea was home to a succession of important church
scholars, who codified the church laws, and was the seat of
a metropolitan bishop responsible for all the Christian
communities of the eastern Mediterranean. A small but
significant Jewish community thrived throughout this time.
The Arab conquest, in A.D. 640, put an end to this period.
In 1101, Baldwin I and his Crusader army landed in Caesarea
and slaughtered the entire Arab population. Among the
treasures Baldwin's troops discovered after this conquest
was a green crystal vessel reputed to be the famous Holy
Grail. It was taken to Italy, where it is preserved today,
known as the Sacro Catino, in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo
in Genoa. Caesarea changed hands several times during the
following century, even though Saint Louis of France had
fortified its walls in 1252. Most of the Crusader ruins we
see today date from Saint Louis's 13th-century fortress.
When Muslim armies took the town (1265 and 1291), they did
their best to pull down the defenses, remembering that this
had been Baldwin's beachhead, and for the next 500 years
Caesarea's impressive structures slowly became covered by
In the 1700s, Ahmed Jezzar Pasha, Ottoman governor of the
province, sent his workmen to Caesarea to reclaim its
Carrara marble, columns of decorative stone, and finely
carved capitals for use in the reconstruction and
beautification of his provincial capital at Acre (Akko).
An Arab village survived here, but it was abandoned by its
inhabitants during the 1948 war. Caesarea's modern history
really begins in 1940, when Kibbutz Sedot Yam was founded.
Its members discovered the unexpected richness of Caesarea's
archeological remains, and a full campaign of restoration
followed. Today, the city is one of Israel's most impressive
Public transportation to Caesarea is poor and very
time-consuming (which makes an organized tour a good
option). To get to Caesarea by bus, you must first take a
bus to Hadera from Tel Aviv, Netanya, or Haifa. Buses to
Hadera from all these towns run roughly every 30 to 45
minutes. From Hadera, bus no. 76 (NIS 6.50/$1.80) leaves six
times a day for Caesarea, departing Sunday to Thursday.
Check with Egged information in Haifa for current timetables
both ways. On Friday the last bus leaves Hadera at 12:40pm,
and no buses run on Saturday. Return buses to Hadera leave
Caesarea about 20 minutes after each inbound arrival. You
can also take one of the intercity Egged buses between Tel
Aviv and Haifa, and ask to be let off on the main highway
near the road to Caesarea, but from there, it's a desolate
hike of about an hour to the national park.
There is a main coastal highway between Tel Aviv and Haifa,
with the exit to Caesarea clearly marked.
The remains of Caesarea (Qesari or Qesarya, in Hebrew) are
spread along a 3-kilometer (2-mile) stretch of Mediterranean
beach. There are two separate entrances: To the Roman
theater, and 1/2 kilometer (1/4 mile) north, to the walled
Crusader city. Just inland from the Crusader city entrance
is a small snack restaurant and a shady parking lot. Be sure
to wander behind the restaurant for a look at the ruins of a
Byzantine street (described below). Finally, about a
kilometer (1/2 mile) north of the city, a 10- or 15-minute
walk along the beach, is the impressive Roman aqueduct.
Caesarea National Park
You'll arrive at either the Roman theater or the Crusader
city, which are in fact right next to each other, though the
entrance gates are 1/2 kilometer (1/4 mile) apart. You can
enter the city to visit restaurants or stroll the ruins for
free after hours, but special exhibits are closed.
You can get a map showing the details of all the various
eras of construction at this site, both on land and in the
water -- the cities and harbors of Straton's Tower, the
earliest settlement, and the cities of Herod, the Romans,
the Byzantines, and the Crusaders. I recommend that you do
this, since it will give you a much better idea of the scope
of the place. The excavations you see are only a very small
part of what's actually there, waiting to be discovered; new
finds are constantly being unearthed. During the summer of
1995, a massive temple dedicated to Roman gods was uncovered
and attributed to the great builder, King Herod; it may be
open for public viewing during the time span of this
edition. I'll assume you're going to see the ruins from
south to north, starting with the theater.
The Roman Theater, capable of seating 5,000 spectators, was
constructed in the time of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, and has
been restored. You may be lucky enough to visit when a
summer concert or other performance is planned, and sit on
the warm, pale limestone seats with the Mediterranean as a
backdrop. Test the acoustics by sitting in the stands and
listening to someone speak on stage or clap hands.
You enter the Crusader city on a bridge across the deep
moat, then through a gatehouse with gothic vaulting.
Emerging from the gatehouse, you find yourself in the large
fortified town, which covered a mere fraction of the great
Herodian/Roman city. Sites within the fortified town are
marked by signs in Hebrew and English. Especially noteworthy
are the foundations of the Crusader Church of Saint Paul
(1100s), down toward the sea, near the little Turkish
minaret (1800s). The citadel, next to the group of shops and
restaurants, was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1837, as
was most of the Crusader city.
The Port of Sebastos, a quay, part of the Crusader port,
extends from the Crusader city into the sea, but King
Herod's harbor at Caesarea, completed in 10 B.C. and also
named Sebastos, extended at least three times as far as what
you see today. It curved around to the right, where a
separate northern breakwater extended to meet it, roughly
where the northern Crusader fortification walls meet the
The breakwater was also a wide platform, with room for large
quantities of cargo, housing for sailors, a lighthouse,
colossi (gigantic statues), and two large towers guarding
the entrance gates to the harbor. The harbor could be closed
off by a chain stretched between the two towers, preventing
ships from entering; it was big enough and protected enough
to permit ships to winter over, allowing the departure of
ships laden with cargo from the East just as soon as winter
Herod's harbor was one of the largest harbors of the Roman
world, mentioned by historian Flavius Josephus as an
especially amazing feat of engineering because it was a
total creation -- built without the usual benefit of a
topographical feature such as a bay or cove. Historians did
not find the harbor until 1960, when a combination of aerial
photography and underwater archeological explorations
revealed the ruins sunken offshore.
We don't see more evidence of this fantastic port structure
because two geological fault lines are just off the coast
running below the Herodian port. Historians and
archeologists believe that the harbor structure probably
sank vertically downward shortly after its construction --
by the 3rd century A.D. at the latest -- in response to an
The excavation of the underwater ruins is an important
international project, one of the major endeavors of the
Center for Maritime Studies at Haifa University. There's a
diving center at the site of the ancient harbor (Phone
06/361-441), where you can get a map, complete with
directions for a self-guided diving tour of the ruins, with
an abbreviated version for snorkelers.
Admission (including Roman theater and Crusader city) is NIS
18 ($5) for adults, half price for children. Hours are
Saturday to Thursday 8am to 4pm (until 5pm April through
September), and Friday from 8am to 3pm. Call Phone 06/636-
1358 or 06/ 228-983 for information.
The Byzantine Street
Fifty yards east of the Crusader city entrance, behind the
little snack shop, is the Byzantine Street, or Street of
Statues, actually part of a forum. The statues depict an
emperor and other dignitaries. Much of the stone for
construction of the forum was taken from earlier buildings,
as was the custom at the time.
Head east from either the Byzantine Street or the Roman
Theater to reach the ruined hippodrome, in the fields
between the two access roads. Measuring 80 by 320 yards, the
hippodrome could seat some 20,000 people. Some of the
monuments in the hippodrome may have been brought from Aswan
in Egypt -- expense was no object when Herod built for
The Jewish Quarter & Roman Aqueduct
Caesarea's Jewish Quarter is outside the walls of the
Crusader city, near the beach directly north. The community
that flourished here during Roman times was well within the
boundaries, and the walls, of Herod's city.
The great aqueduct north of the Jewish Quarter is almost 9
kilometers (6 miles) in length, though most of it has been
buried by the shifting sands. There was an earlier aqueduct
here, but the present construction dates from the A.D. 100s.
The southern part of the aqueduct is exposed to view, and
you can see it.
The Aqueduct Beach
Swim at the white, sandy lagoons beside the romantic Roman
aqueduct. Even off-season (late spring, early autumn) the
sea is warmer than the North Atlantic and the Pacific ever
get in the States. Some days the sea is lake-calm, but at
other times, as everywhere on the coast, beware of rocks and
Where to Stay
Dan Caesarea. Caesarea 30600. Phone 06/626-9111. Fax 06/626-
9122. E-mail email@example.com. 114 rms and suites
(all with bath). A/C TV TEL. $118-$365 double. 15% service
charge; $58 per rm surcharge Thurs and Fri. Rates include
breakfast. Family plan and children's rates. AE, DC, MC, V.
Promoting itself as a golf hotel, the Dan Caesarea offers a
full array of sports activities. The hotel is a lovely
four-story complex set amid acres of gardens and
archeological ruins. All rooms have balconies and vistas of
the Mediterranean (some distance away) or the countryside.
As with many of the older Dan Hotels, deluxe rooms have been
beautifully renovated and contain luxurious polished stone
bathrooms; furnishings in standard rooms show their age.
There is a large outdoor swimming pool, and the hotel is
adjacent to Israel's only 18-hole golf course, which guests
can use for a fee. Horseback riding, fishing, diving,
bicycling, and other country activities can be arranged, and
there is a full program of in-hotel sports. The hotel is not
close to many restaurant choices, and guests depend on
in-house dining facilities, which are adequate, but no more
Dining: Restaurant, snack bar/cafe, bar.
Facilities: Outdoor pool, fitness center, Jacuzzi, sauna,
two day/night tennis courts, access to golf club.
If you want to stay close to the sea and the extensive
antiquities, this large one-level villa, the home of Ilana
Berner, who is a licensed tour guide, is recommended. Within
walking distance to a grocery, restaurant, and synagogue,
the house has a swimming pool in summer, a hot tub/Jacuzzi
(available with advance notice), and offers such amenities
as game boards and two bicycles for rent. Ms. Berner also
has dogs and cats and maintains a no-smoking rule. There is
also a three-bedroom apartment that sleeps eight and rents
for $250 per night. Reservations necessary. Call for
instructions or pickup from Hadera (fee) or Caesarea.
Where to Dine
While there are few overnight facilities in Caesarea itself,
there are pleasant restaurants, especially among the ancient
ruins. Few visitors realize that these places stay open
after the archeological park has officially closed; you can
enjoy extensive or light meals on their waterfront terraces
as well as fabulous sunsets and starry nights.
Charlie's. Old Caesarea. Phone 06/836-3050. Reservations
recommended. Main courses NIS 40-80 ($11-$22.40). MC, V.
Daily 10:30am-1am. INTERNATIONAL.
Charlie's rambles over its site among the ruins inside the
Crusader walls, offering you large and small whitewashed
arched-ceiling dining areas and a covered harbor-side
terrace. There's a really wide variety of choices here, from
appetizers like avocado filled with shrimp and Moroccan
"cigars" (edible) to main courses of shrimp, squid, fresh
fish, and grilled meat. A very complete bar offers wines at
$12 to $20 a bottle for long on-the-terrace evenings
overlooking the sea. Friday evenings often include folklore
performances and sing-alongs; large tour groups often book
here, so reservations are imperative.
Herod's Palace. Old Caesarea. Phone 06/836-1103.
Reservations recommended. Main courses NIS 36-65 ($10-
$18.20). MC, V. Sun-Thurs 9:30am-1am; Fri 9:30am to before
Shabbat; Sat after Shabbat. INTERNATIONAL.
This is the only kosher restaurant in Caesarea, beautifully
situated in a restored building at the southern end of
Crusader ruins inside the Crusader walls. It has a large
upstairs terrace overlooking the sea. A romantic place to
spend balmy evenings, Herod's Palace serves a selection of
grilled fish, meats, and desserts. A 10% service charge is
added to each bill.
5. Israel's Wine Country
Located in the hills north of Caesarea, in a pretty area
that could be called "wine country," Zichron Yaakov, founded
in 1882 under the special patronage of the Baron Edmond de
Rothschild, has the distinction of being one of the first
agricultural towns to be developed in Israel in modern
times. Zichron Yaacov means "memorial of Jacob," and was
named for the Baron's father, James de Rothschild (in
Hebrew, Jacob); these days, many just call it "Zichron." Of
interest here are the Carmel Mizrachi Winery in Zichron
Yaacov, and the Baron and Binyamina Wineries in nearby
Binyamina (see below).
You can also visit Ramat Ha-Nadiv, or the Heights of the
Benefactor, containing the tomb of the Baron Edmond de
Rothschild (1845-1934) and his wife, Baroness Adelaide de
Rothschild, set in handsome gardens filled with all the
varieties of plantings the Rothschilds helped to develop in
Israel. Near Ramat Ha-Nadiv's vista point, overlooking
Caesaria and the Mediterranean, you'll see a stone map
marking the many towns and agricultural settlements
developed under Rothschild sponsorship. The Rothschilds were
reinterred here, according to their wishes, after the
establishment of the State of Israel.
Hameyasdim Street, old Zichron's main thoroughfare, is lined
with the town's original houses, some of which have been
restored; you'll find a few places to have a snack or light
meal, and a few quaint shops. Stop in to see the Aaronson
House, 40 Hameyasdim St. (Phone 06/639-0120), where a small
museum commemorates the heroic and tragic Aaronson family.
The Aaronsons' story is a national legend that has grown
more romantic and poetic with time. Aaron Aaronson (1876-
1919) was an agronomist of international repute who received
his training in France under the aegis of the Rothschilds.
He discovered and studied an ancestor of modern wheat that
grows in the vicinity. He and his sisters, Sara and Rebecca,
and his assistant, Absolom Feinberg, with whom he had set up
an experimental farm at Athlit, were at the center of NILI,
an anti-Turkish spy ring that supplied the British with
intelligence during World War I. Feinberg was killed while
traveling through Gaza on a desperate mission to contact the
British army in Sinai. After the Six-Day War 50 years later,
when a search was made so he could be reburied in Jerusalem,
the site of his grave in Gaza was identified by a palm tree
that sprouted from dates he had been carrying in his pocket
when he was ambushed. Both Sara and Rebecca had been in love
with Feinberg; Sara was arrested and committed suicide after
being tortured by the Turks. Aaron Aaronson himself, one of
the most promising and admired members of the Jewish
community in Palestine, died in a plane crash on his way to
the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I. The
house, with its period ambience and display of historical
mementos, is open Sunday to Thursday from 8:30am to 1am;
Tuesday from 3:30 to 5:30pm and Friday from 9am until noon.
Admission is NIS 7 ($2).
Opposite Zichron Yaakov, on the coast, is Kibbutz Maagan
Michael, whose beautiful carp ponds at the edge of the sea
also serve as a bird sanctuary. Depending on the season,
bird watchers can find herons, cranes, and storks and exotic
birds, including (at rare times) flamingos.
The Field School at Maagan Michael (Phone 06/639-9655; fax
06/639-1618) is an important bird-watching center. November
through February, during migrations between Europe and
Africa, is an especially rich time for sightings at this
station. You can arrange a private guided tour of the
sanctuary through the Field School; the rate is
approximately $130 for the day. If you want to visit on your
own, the Field School can supply you with advice and printed
material in English. Kibbutz Maagan Michael produces plastic
products and also has a livestock center featuring
in-residence Israeli cowboys and herds of Brahmin-type cows.
Carmel Mizrachi Winery. Zichron Yaacov. Ha-Nadiv St. Phone
06/639-1241. Reservations recommended for tours. NIS 12
($3.40). Sun-Thurs 9am-3pm and Fri 9am-12:30pm.
The sister winery of Carmel Mizrachi in Rishon LeZion, south
of Tel Aviv, this is the largest winery in Israel; founded
in 1906, it produces 60% of all wine exports. There are
organized tours, wine tasting, and a shop on the premises
with a complete selection of Carmel Mizrachi products sold
at about 15% under standard retail price. Among notable
choices are cabernet sauvignon 1985 from the Rothschild
Series, and the merlots from the Estate Series. Also look
for a fruity red wine called Hilulim, the first wine
produced after the grape harvest.
Baron wine Cellars. Binyamina, south of Zichron Yaacov.
Phone 06/638-0434. Tours by appointment. NIS 14 ($3.90).
Sun-Thurs 9am-4pm; Fri 9am-2pm.
This midsize winery produces wine under the Tishbi, Tishbi's
Cellar and Baron labels. Its reputation for white wines
(sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and Emerald Riesling) is very
good; it also produces Champenoise, a sparkling wine. Signs
throughout Benyamina direct you to the winery.
Binyamina Winery. Binyamina, south of Zichron Yaacov. Phone
06/638-8643. Tours by appointment only. NIS 2 (60 cents).
Sun-Thurs 8am-4pm; Fri 8am-1pm.
Another midsize winery, Binyamina offers the visitor a tour
of its production center and the vineyards. There is wine
tasting, and a shop on the premises. Investment in new staff
and equipment here in the early 1990s promises to make this
a very interesting though less prestigious stop. Signs
throughout Binyamina direct you to the winery.
Where to Stay
Radisson Moriah Gardens Zichron Yaacov Hotel. 1 Etzion St.,
Zichron Yaacov 30900. Phone 800/221-0203 or 212/541-5009 in
the U.S.; 06/630-0111. Fax 06/639-7030. 112 rms (all with
bath). A/C TV TEL. $120-$145 single; $120-$180 double. AE,
DC, MC, V.
This contemporary, sprawling low-rise hotel, with beautiful
gardens overlooking the countryside at the edge of Zichron
Yaacov, was originally built in the 1970s as one of the
country-clublike retreats for trade union members in the
days when Zionist socialism was still in full swing. It's
comfortable and very attractive, but not so much of a deluxe
property as some of the other Radisson Moriah Chain Hotels,
and this is reflected in the rates. The hotel is a pleasant
base for exploring Caesarea, Megiddo, the artists' colony at
Ein Hod and the beaches of the Mediterranean coast. There is
an outdoor swimming pool, lobby bar, restaurant, coffee bar,
and children's play area.
Where to Dine
Shuni Fortress. Jabotinsky Park, Zichron Yaacov-Binyamina
Road (Route 652). Phone 06/ 638-0227. Reservations
recommended. Appetizers $10-$20 range; main courses $15-$25
range. DC, V. Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. Closed Sun. One
kilometer north of Binyamina. COUNTRY FRENCH.
Set in the arched, whitewashed rooms of a renovated ancient
fortress, this restaurant is the special creation of Chef
Antoinne Taub, who has been an important force in shaping
the traditional haute cuisine scene in Israel. There is no
menu: Everything depends on what the chef is doing on the
day of your visit, but you may encounter mushrooms
Provenale or goose liver pät³ among the first courses, and
honeyed breast of mallard or boeuf bourguignonne among the
main courses. Classic preparation and sauces are the general
rule, but there is a rustic feel to the menu here, with
homemade breads, and wines from the area as well as from
Chef Antoinne's own vineyard. In good weather, the few patio
tables, with lovely vistas, are in demand and must be
reserved ahead of time. Desserts are always worthwhile.
A Side Trip to Dor
On the highway skirting the beach, road signs announce
Nasholim, a kibbutz located on one of Israel's most
beautiful bathing beaches, Dor Beach. A wide expanse of
sandy beach, it is beautified by natural lagoons. Looming
nearby is Tel Dor, a mound containing the remains of the
ancient city that was inhabited since Bronze Age times by
Phoenicians, Israelites, Greeks, and Romans. The ruins of a
massive Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Zeus add drama to
the site. Farther to the north at modern Dor is a
picturesque area of caves eroded by the sea to form a
natural tunnel at the water's edge.
Where to Stay
Nasholim Kibbutz Holiday Village. Carmel Beach 20815. Phone
06/639-9533. Fax 06/ 639-7614. 80 rms (all with shower). A/C
TV TEL. $80-$105 double; July 15-Sept 1 and Jewish holidays
add 50% and half board required. Winter: 10%-25% lower.
Lower rate available if booked on Kibbutz Fly & Drive Plan
(800/552-0141). MC, V.
This kibbutz-operated vacation village is about an hour's
drive from Tel Aviv, and within easy access to Caesarea and
Haifa. It's a great place to spend the day, or several days.
The islets around the beach make for sheltered, warm
swimming, even during the winter or storm seasons, and the
recreation facilities include a children's play area and
tennis courts and a video television room as well as a
disco/club for younger guests. Rooms are simple, lined up
like rows of cabanas with small terraces in front; they
include small kitchenette units. There are antiquities
around this recreation village, and it's a good base for
sightseeing tours. Nasholim is justly proud of its meals,
among the best in the kibbutz guest-house system, which are
served in the air-conditioned dining room. The place is
mobbed with Israeli families and kids in the summer school
vacation program and on Jewish holidays; at other times it's
more relaxed and quieter.
Note that there is no exit from the coastal highway to
Nasholim. To reach Nasholim, leave the main coastal highway
and use the parallel inland road between Binyamina and
6. Acre (Akko)
23km (14 miles) N of Haifa, 56km (37 miles) W of Tiberias.
Acre (also Akko or Acco), with its romantic minarets,
massive city seawalls, and palm trees framed against the
sky, has had a long, eventful history. It was first
mentioned in the chronicles of Pharaoh Thutmose III, about
3,500 years ago. It was a leading Phoenician port, and
although it was allotted to the tribe of Asher, the tribe
was never able to conquer it. The town is mentioned as part
of David's kingdom, and was given by Solomon to Hiram, king
of Tyre, in return for his help in building the temple.
Alexander the Great conquered Acre in 332 B.C., and later,
in 280 B.C., it was captured by the Ptolemies, and renamed
Ptolemais. Under this name it is mentioned in the New
Testament as a stopping place of Saint Paul. Julius Caesar
stayed here in 48 B.C.
From the time of Acre's allocation to the tribe of Asher,
Jews had lived in relative peace with the other local
inhabitants, but during the Bar Kokhba revolt many Jews were
killed by the Romans. Still, remnants of the Jewish
population continued to live here.
When the Arabs conquered Ptolemais in A.D. 636, the town
reverted to the name of Acre, and it was known by that name
until the Crusaders took the town in 1104 and renamed it
Saint Jean d'Acre. The town became the regional seat of
Crusader government, and it expanded to include an entire
underground city, which you still can visit today. Except
for one 4-year period, the Crusaders held Acre until the
13th century when they were defeated by the Mamelukes, who
sacked the town. The fall of Acre ensured the doom of
Crusader dominion in the Holy Land.
It was not until 1749, when Bedouin Sheik Daher el-Omar
conquered the town, that Acre experienced a resurgence, but
his plans for a serious rebuilding program came to a sudden
end when he was murdered in 1775 by the notoriously cruel
Ahmed El-Jezzar Pasha. Under the impetus of El-Jezzar, the
town's most important rebuilding took place, including the
Jezzar Pasha Mosque, the Khan El-Umdan, the Turkish
bathhouse now housing the Municipal Museum, the massive
stone walls, and the aqueduct to the north. These structures
still stand today.
Acre's decline as a major port was sealed by the advent of
the steamship and modern naval technology, with shipping
activities gradually transferred to the larger port at Haifa
across the bay, which remains Israel's primary port. On May
4, 1947, Acre was the scene of the largest prison break in
history when 251 prisoners escaped from Acre Fortress with
the help of Jewish underground fighters.
Buses no. 262 and 272 (express) and 271 (local) leave the
Haifa bus station every 10 minutes, bound for Acre; the
schedule is less frequent on Saturday.
Independence Road in Haifa port runs north out of the city
past a heavily industrial area. At a crossroads called the
"checkpost," bear left, following the signs, over the
railroad tracks, and you'll be on the northern coastal road
to Acre and Nahariya.
Directly across from the Mosque of Jezzar Pasha is the
Tourist Information Office (Phone 04/991-1764), open from
8:30am to 4pm Sunday to Thursday, closing early on Friday.
Here -- or next door, at the entrance to the Subterranean
Crusader City -- you can buy a large, wonderfully detailed
map of the entire city of Acre for only NIS 5 ($1.40). In
conjunction with this office is the Western Galilee Tourist
Society, 1 Weitzman St., Old Akko (Phone04/981-7419; fax
04/981-7423), which distributes information on touring,
local festivals and lodging throughout the entire Western
A note for women: Medieval Acre is fascinating, but women
unaccompanied by men, even in pairs or in groups, attract a
lot of attention around the labyrinthine Old City.
Coming into town by car, you can simply follow the signs for
the Old City. There is a small parking lot on the left ($3),
just inside the city walls.
If you arrive from Haifa by bus, city buses no. 1, 2, 61,
62, 63, and 65 all make stops at the entrance to the Old
City. You can also walk from the bus station: Turn left as
you exit and walk one long block to the traffic lights on
Ben-Ami Street. Turn right (west) onto Ben-Ami and walk four
long blocks to Haim Weizmann Street. Make a left onto
Weizmann and you'll see the walls of the ancient Turkish
fortress about two blocks ahead. Soon the minaret and dome
of the Jezzar Pasha Mosque will come into view.
Today Acre comprises two distinct parts. There's the modern
city of Acre, with about 40,000 residents, and a number of
large industrial plants (including Steel City) and immigrant
housing projects. Then there's the Old City, still
surrounded by high, thick stone walls on all sides, situated
on the tip of land jutting out into the sea, forming the
protected Bay of Acre.
Exploring Old Acre
Allow yourself a half day to wander through Old Acre's
medieval streets. Unlike the restored Old City of Jaffa,
which is filled with tourist shops, Old Acre is genuine,
charming, and its streets teem with real life. The best
place to start your tour is at the Mosque of Ahmed Jezzar
Pasha. Right across the street from Jezzar's mosque is the
marvelous Subterranean Crusader City, and just a few steps
farther is the Municipal Museum, housed in Ahmed Jezzar
Pasha's Turkish bath.
Next you'll wander through the pleasant and colorful streets
of the bazaar. Be sure to see the most picturesque shop in
the bazaar, Kurdy and Berit's Coffee and Spices, at no.
13/261 (ask around, it's deep in the market). If you make a
purchase at Kurdy and Berit's, the very hospitable owner may
invite you to try a cup of thick Arabic coffee. Acre's
"formal" market is Suq El-Abiad, but numerous streets within
Old Acre serve as shopping areas. You'll pass the
El-Zeituneh Mosque to the Khan El-Umdan caravansary, marked
by a tall segmented tower. A caravansary, or khan, was a
combination travelers' inn, warehouse, banking center,
stable, and factory, traditionally built around a lightly
fortified courtyard to house caravans, pilgrims, and other
The market streets, filled with delicious Arabic bakeries
and hummus restaurants, are an excellent area to find
snacks. Just beyond is the port, a good place to stop for
lunch (see "Where to Dine," below). At the port, you can
also hire a boat to take you on a sea tour of the city walls
(about $5 per person). Don't be afraid to bargain. Many boat
operators will be glad to take you on a motor or fishing
boat cruise around Old Acre. Settle on a price in advance
(about $14 to $17 for an hour is the average), and get a
boat that looks comfortable. A large tourist boat, the
Princess, takes visitors on a 20-minute ride around the Old
City walls, but only when enough people are waiting to make
the run profitable. The fare is NIS 10 ($3) per person.
In Venezia Square (Ha-Dayagim in Hebrew), facing the port,
is the Sinian Pasha Mosque, and behind it the Khan El-Faranj
caravansary. Yet another khan, named El-Shwarda, is a short
distance to the northeast. A few steps back is the Ahmed
Jezzar Pasha Mosque. You'll also want to visit the Museum of
Heroism and El-Jezzar's Wall on Ha-Hagana Street.
The Top Attractions
Mosque of Armed Jezzar Pasha. Admission to mosque complex
and subterranean Crusader vaults NIS 4 ($1.10). Open 8am-
noon; 1:15-4pm and 4:45-6pm. Modest dress required. No
entrance during prayers (exact times vary according to time
of the year).
Ahmed Jezzar Pasha was the Ottoman Turkish governor of Acre
during the late 1700s. When Napol³on invaded Egypt, the
English joined the Ottomans in trying to drive him out.
Jezzar Pasha, thinking Napol³on an easy enemy to defeat, set
out confidently for Gaza with his forces, but Napol³on's
French legions drove him right back to Acre. The French were
forced ultimately to withdraw, but Jezzar Pasha's troubles
were far from over. Internal unrest and the other
semi-independent Ottoman governors in the region threatened
the unity of Ahmed Jezzar's District. A few years later
Jezzar was called upon by Constantinople (present-day
Istanbul) to march into Arabia and try to put down the
revolt of the ultra-religious Wahhabi movement. The pasha
died in Acre in 1804. Despite his great ability as a
governor, he was branded as a stern administrator and
nicknamed El-Jezzar (The Butcher).
Ahmed Jezzar's contributions to Acre included building
fountains, a covered market, a Turkish bath, and the
harmonious mosque complex that bears his name. Built in
1781, it is an excellent example of classic Ottoman Turkish
architecture and stands among the pasha's most ambitious
projects. Every great man in the empire wanted to endow a
mosque in his own name, an act that not only added to his
glory on earth but also made points for him in heaven. A
number of charitable institutions were usually constructed
around the mosque, and shops were built into the walls, the
rent from the shops paying for the mosque's maintenance.
Though the greatest of these complexes were in
Constantinople, the Ottoman capital, the one in Acre gives
you a good idea of the exotic style of Ottoman architecture
(rooted in both Byzantine and Persian traditions), and how
the mosque complex worked.
As you approach the mosque area, El-Jezzar Street turns
right off Weizmann Street. The mosque entrance is a few
steps along El-Jezzar Street on the left. Before you mount
the stairs to the mosque courtyard, notice the ornate little
building to the right of the stairs. It's a sabil, or
cold-drinks stand, from which pure, refreshing drinking
water, sometimes mixed with fruit syrups, was distributed --
a part of the mosque complex's services. Note especially the
fine tile fragments mounted above the little grilled windows
just beneath the sebil's dome. Tile-making was an Ottoman
Up the stairs, you enter the mosque courtyard. Your ticket
will enable you to explore the complex of Crusader buildings
(now flooded and used as cisterns) under the mosque. Just
inside the entry, mounted on a pedestal, is a marble disc
bearing the tughra, or monogram, of the Ottoman sultan. It
spells out the sultan's name, his father's name, and the
The arcade around the courtyard can be used for prayers
during hot days of summer, as can the arcaded porch at the
front of the mosque. The shadirvan, or ablutions fountain,
opposite the mosque entry, is used for the ritual cleansing
of face, neck, hands, and feet five times a day before
prayers. You must slip off your shoes before entering the
mosque proper. This is not merely a religious rule, but a
hygienic one: worshipers kneel on the carpets during prayer,
and want to keep them clean.
Inside, you'll notice the mihrab, or prayer niche, which
indicates the direction of Mecca, toward which worshipers
must face when they pray. The galleries to the right and
left of the entrance are reserved for women, the main area
of the floor for men. The minbar, a sort of pulpit, is that
separate structure with a curtained entry, stairs, and a
little steeple. Around to the right is a mausoleum and a
small graveyard that hold the tombs of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha
and his successor, Suleiman Pasha, and members of their
families. The mosque is still used by Acre's Muslim
population, so when it's in service for prayer (five times a
day), you must wait until the prayers are over to enter the
mosque (about 20 minutes).
Subterranean Crusader City. Admission NIS 12 ($3.40) adults,
reduction for students and children. Admission includes
entrance to Municipal Museum. Sun-Thurs 8:30am-6pm; Fri
8:30am-2pm; Sat 9am-5pm; closings are 1 hour earlier in
Virtually across the street from the Mosque of Ahmed Jezzar
Pasha is the Subterranean Crusader City. In the entrance is
a tourism information kiosk, where you can buy a city map
and an entrance ticket.
The Crusaders built their fortress atop what was left of the
Roman city. In Ottoman times the cavernous chambers were
used as a caravansary until Napol³on's attack. In
preparation for the defense of his city, Ahmed Jezzar Pasha
ordered the walls heightened, and the Crusader rooms
partially filled with sand and dirt, to better support the
walls. Today, you get a good look at how the Crusaders lived
and worked in the late 1100s.
The bottom of the hall was built by the Crusaders, the top
by the Ottomans. The next hall you enter once held an
illegal (in Muslim times) wine press. Next comes the
courtyard, with the 125-foot-high walls of Acre Citadel,
which was used by the British as a prison during the mandate
and now houses the Museum of Heroism (see below).
Beyond the courtyard, through a huge Ottoman gate, are the
Knights' Halls, once occupied by the Knights Hospitalers of
Saint John. In the ceiling of the hall, a patch of concrete
marks the spot where Jewish underground members, imprisoned
by the British in the Citadel (directly above the hall),
attempted to break out.
Back through the courtyard, you now head for the Grand
Maneir, or center of government, in the Crusader city. Past
it, through a narrow passage, is the Crypt, so named only
because of its present depth; it was actually the knights'
refectory, or dining hall. Beyond the refectory is a longer
tunnel leading to the Post (El-Posta), a series of rooms and
a courtyard similar to a caravansary, the precise use of
which is not known.
Municipal Museum (Turkish Bath). Admission NIS 12 ($3.40)
for adults, reduction for students and children. Includes
admission to Crusader City. Sun-Thurs 8:30am-6pm; Fri 8:30am-
2pm; Sat 9am-5pm; closings are 1 hour earlier in winter.
Down at the end of El-Jezzar Street, just around the corner,
is the Municipal Museum. The building is the Hammam
El-Basha, built by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha as part of his mosque
complex in the 1780s. The museum exhibits are interesting,
but the building itself is fantastic.
The first few small rooms hold collections of artifacts from
Acre's last 2,000 years. Beyond them you walk along a
passage (with a garden through the grillwork on your right)
to the folklore exhibit of mannequins dressed in Ottoman
garb, arranged in various scenes of everyday life. Note
especially the pretty tilework.
Follow the passage from the folklore exhibit to the bath
proper. Turkish baths were built on the Roman plan, with
three distinct rooms. The first was the entry and dressing
room, the next was the tepidarium (its Roman name), with
warm steam, and the last was the caldarium, with hot steam.
The hot room was always the most ornate.
As you walk through the first two rooms, note the tiny glass
skylights in the domes. The third room, the one for hot
steam, is rich in marble and mosaic work. In the center is a
circular platform for steam bathing. The heat source was
beneath it. Some Turkish baths have a small swimming pool
here instead. Four private steam cubicles occupy the four
points of the compass.
The exhibits here, mostly enlarged copies of drawings,
lithographs, and engravings, depict Acre during the
Napoleonic Wars. When you're finished with your
explorations, a guard will let you out a door just off the
Museum of Heroism. Phone 04/991-8264. Admission NIS 8
($2.20) for adults, with reduction for children and
students. Sun-Thurs 9am-5pm.
The museum is in the Citadel of Acre. This complex of
buildings was used as a prison in Ottoman and British
Mandate times, but is now a mental hospital. Part of the
prison has been set aside in honor of the Jewish underground
fighters imprisoned here by the British. With the help of
Irgun forces, 251 prisoners staged a mass escape in May
1947. If you saw the movie Exodus, that was the breakout and
this was the prison. The prison is also revered by Arab
Israelis and by Palestinians, whose own national fighters
were detained and, in many cases, executed here during the
Among the exhibits are the entrance to the escape tunnel and
displays of materials showing the British repression of
Zionist activity during the mandate. Not all prisoners were
lucky enough to escape, however. Eight Irgun fighters were
hanged here in the 10 years before Israel's independence.
You can visit the death chamber, called the Hanging Room,
complete with noose.
Inmates here included Zeev Jabotinsky and Dov Gruner, among
other leaders of Zionism and Israel's independence movement.
Before the mandate, the prison's most famous inmate was
Bahaullah (1817-92), founder of the Bahá'í faith (see
The museum can be reached by walking north from the
lighthouse on Ha-Hagana Street, along the seawall. You can
also come here directly from El-Jezzar Mosque. Walk down
El-Jezzar Street and continue in as straight a line as
possible to Ha-Hagana Street, which skirts the city's
western seawalls. When you reach the sea, turn right, and
soon you'll see the entrance to the museum on the right-hand
To appreciate the elaborate system of defenses built by
Ahmed Jezzar Pasha to protect against Napol³on's fleet and
forces, turn right as you come out of the Museum of Heroism
onto Ha-Hagana Street and walk a few steps north. You'll see
the double system of walls with a moat in between. Jutting
into the sea is an Ottoman defensive tower called the Burj
El-Kuraim. You're now standing at the northwestern corner of
the walled city. Walk east (inland) along the walls and
you'll pass the Citadel, the Burj El-Hazineh (Treasury
Tower), and cross Weizmann Street to the Burj El-Komander,
the strongest point in the walls. The land wall system
continues south from here all the way to the beach.
At the entrance to the Old City on Weizmann Street, near the
Walls of El-Jezzar, is a sunken children's playground
bordered by the Dahar El-Omer Walls. Dahar El-Omer (or Daher
El-Amar) was the sheik who rebuilt the city walls after
capturing Acre from the Mamelukes.
The Khans & the Port
Make your way south through the city, toward the port, and
if you need a point of reference, ask a local to point you
toward the Khan El-Umdan. The khan (dating from 1785) is
much older than its tower, which was built as a clock tower
in 1906 to celebrate the 30th year of the reign of the
Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II. El-Umdan means "The Pillars,"
and when you enter this vast colonnaded court you'll know
how it got its name. Another of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha's
harmonious works in the public service, this caravansary
served commerce. It was built on the site of a Crusader
monastery of the Dominican order.
Just to the east of Khan El-Umdan is Venezia Square
(Ha-Dayagim) and the Sinian Pasha Mosque. The port is to the
southeast and industrious fishers are still at work here.
Behind the port are two more caravansaries. The Khan
El-Faranj (Afranj), or the Inn of the Franks, is a few steps
north of the Sinian Pasha Mosque. This complex began in 1729
as a Franciscan convent, but some of the building was
apparently rented to French and Italian merchants.
Northeast of the Khan El-Faranj is the Khan El-Shwarda,
right next to a tower in the city walls called Burj
Es-Sultan. The Burj is famous because it is the only
construction built by the Crusaders that remains intact. At
the tower's base is one of Napoleon's cannons, cast in Li²ge
and captured by the Ottoman and English forces.
Walk up Marco Polo Street to your next stop. Marco Polo, by
the way, was one of several famous visitors to Acre in
medieval times; another was King Richard the Lion-Hearted.
The Khan El-Shwarda, at the northern end of Marco Polo
Street, occupies the site of a convent of the nuns of Saint
Clare that closed in 1291 when Acre fell. There's not a lot
to look at today.
The Mosque A-Ramal (or El-Ramel), the former "Sand Mosque,"
on Marco Polo Street, was built in 1704-05. A Crusader
inscription was found on the southeast wall of this mosque,
which today forms part of the back wall of the fourth shop
on the left from the mosque entrance. The Latin inscription
reads, "Oh, men who pass along this street, in charity I beg
you to pray for my soul -- Master Ebuli Fazli, builder of
the church." The mosque is now used as a scout house, and
it's open daily from 4 to 6pm (admission is free).
An old lighthouse, still in use, stands atop the Crusader
fortification of Burj Es-Sanjak, on the extreme southwest
point of land at Acre. From here you get a marvelous view,
both north and south. Just north of the lighthouse, you'll
notice a large space in the seawall. This stretch of the
wall was destroyed during the heavy earthquake of 1837, the
same earthquake that leveled several cities in the
To Bahá'ís, this shrine to their prophet Bahaullah is the
holiest place on earth. Bahá'í followers believe that God is
manifested to men and women through prophets such as
Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, as well as the Bab
(Bahaullah's predecessor) and Bahaullah himself. The Bahá'í
faith proclaims that all religions are one, that men and
women are equal, that the world should be at peace, and that
education should be universal. Bahá'í followers are
encouraged to live simply and to dedicate themselves to
helping their fellow men and women. They look forward to a
day when there will be a single world government and one
The Bahá'í faith grew out of the revelation of the Bab, a
Persian Shiite Muslim teacher and mystic who flourished from
1844 to 1850, and was executed by the Persian shah for
insurrection and radical teachings. In 1863, Mirza Husein
Ali Nuri, one of the Bab's disciples, proclaimed himself
Bahaullah, the Promised One, whose coming had been foretold
by the Bab. Bahaullah was exiled by the Persian government
in cooperation with the Ottoman leaders to Baghdad,
Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally to Acre, where he
arrived in August 1868. He and several of his followers were
imprisoned for 2 1/2 years at the Acre Citadel. The
authorities later put him under house arrest, and he was
eventually brought to Bahji, where he remained until his
death in 1892. He is buried here in a peaceful tomb
surrounded by magnificent gardens. Bahá'ís are still
persecuted, especially in Iran where the faith was born; the
Shiite Muslims in authority today look upon them as
blasphemers and heretics.
You can visit the shrine at Bahji (Delight), where Bahaullah
lived, died, and is buried, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
only, from 9am to noon. The house's beautiful gardens are
open to visitors every day, from 9am to 4pm. Catch a no. 271
bus heading north toward Nahariya, and make sure it stops at
Going north from Acre, you'll see an impressive gilded gate
on the right-hand side of the road after about 2 kilometers
(1 mile). This gate is not open to the public. Go past it
until you are almost 3 kilometers (about 2 miles) from Acre,
and you'll see a sign, Shamerat. Get off the bus, turn right
here, and go another short distance to the visitors' gate.
The Ottoman-Victorian house holds some memorabilia of
Bahaullah, and the lush gardens are a real treat.
The favorite local spot for swimming is the Argaman Beach,
just south of town by the Argaman Motel. This is one of
Israel's most beautiful Mediterranean beaches, with the view
of Haifa on one end of the bay, and the old seawalls of Acre
on the other. Lifeguards are here in summer. Unfortunately,
like other beaches along the northern coast, Argaman
sometimes suffers from serious pollution.
In nonpeak seasons, visitors are usually welcome for a
day-use fee to enjoy the facilities at the Palm Beach Hotel
and Country Club (Phone 04/981-5815) on Argaman Beach. These
include an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool plus a heated
indoor pool, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and squash
courts, Ping-Pong tables, a health club, a Finnish sauna,
and a private beach with lounge chairs and shades. Call
ahead to make a reservation and ask the price.
Where to Stay
If you're not up for staying in the youth hostel, which is
the only choice inside the walls of the Old City, there are
some fine hotel choices just a short ride from Old Acre,
especially for travelers with private cars.
Argaman Motel. Acre Beach 24101. Phone 04/991-6691. Fax
04/991-6690. 75 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL. Sun-Thurs
$90 double; Fri-Sat and July-Aug $100 double. 10% discount
for stays over 1 week. Rates include breakfast. Fri-Sat,
July-Aug, and Jewish holidays, half board may be required.
AE, DC, MC, V.
This modern hotel consists of a group of two-story buildings
set around a swimming pool and garden a mile south of Acre
on the coastal highway to Haifa, at the intersection of the
main northbound road and its branch into town. It has a
beachfront with views of Haifa to the south and the ancient
walled city of Old Acre just to the north. The Argaman is
right on the beach, with spacious double rooms, all with
wall-to-wall carpet, heat, and private balcony, among other
amenities. The hotel has a good culinary reputation.
Palm Beach Hotel and Country Club. Acre Beach 24101. Phone
04/981-5815. Fax 04/ 991-0434. 110 rms (all with bath). A/C
TV TEL. $110-$140 double. July-Aug and Jewish holidays $160
double. Add 15% for nonhigh-season weekends. Rates include
breakfast. AE, MC, V.
A luxury tower whose rooms have every convenience, the hotel
is located a mile south of the Old City on the coastal road
to Haifa. The greatest benefit of staying here, in addition
to the wonderful beach and view, is the free use of the
country club and other facilities. While nonguests may be
able to use the country club when it's not too busy, staying
at the hotel guarantees the privilege. On the hotel's
premises are a swimming pool, a piano bar, a Jacuzzi,
squash, basketball, and tennis courts, a beach, a
discotheque, self-service restaurant, and an evening terrace
cafe as well as a playground area for children. All
restaurant facilities are kosher. There is a bus into town.
Where to Dine
Abu Christo. Near the Old Port. Phone 04/991-0065.
Reservations recommended on weekends. Appetizers NIS 7-22
($2-$6.20); main courses NIS 33-65 ($9-$18). AE, DC, MC, V.
Daily 10am-midnight. SEAFOOD/MIDDLE EASTERN.
This well-known restaurant is particularly nice in good
weather, when you can sit out on the terrace under reed
shades and enjoy the delightful waterfront view, which often
includes local daredevils diving from the ancient ruins. For
appetizers, a round of Middle Eastern salads is especially
good here. Most main courses are straightforward dishes like
steak, grilled skewers of lamb, or grilled fish (the fresh
grouper is expensive but great) all served with french
fries; there are also Greek-style specialties and house
dishes like skewered shrimp in sesame garlic sauce cooked on
an open fire. Abu Christo often features special low-price
treats, like tiny fresh fish fried in garlic, which you eat,
bones, heads, and all! Full bar.
Oudeh Brothers Restaurant. Old City market area. Phone
04/991-2013. Reservations recommended weekends. Appetizers
NIS 7-20 ($2-$5.60); main courses NIS 33-65 ($9.25-$18).
Higher prices for lobster. MC, V. Daily 9am-midnight.
This clean, pleasant restaurant has four large, airy dining
rooms (alas, no waterfront view) and a large patio dining
area beside the courtyard of the Khan El-Faranj (or Afranj),
described above. It offers a wonderful 25-salad mazza, lamb
shashlik with rice and salad, meat with hummus, pickles, and
pita, and lots of seafood including lobster and shrimp.
Turkish coffee is on the house if you've ordered a meal.
Ptolemais Restaurant. Fisherman's quay. Phone 04/991-6112.
Appetizers NIS 7-20 ($2-$5.60); main courses NIS 25-65 ($7-
$18). DC, MC, V. Summer daily 10am-1am; winter daily 10am-
8pm. SEAFOOD/MIDDLE EASTERN.
This restaurant, near the Abu Christo, dishes up terrific
fish main courses and meals like beef with hummus at
reasonable prices. Watermelon makes a refreshing dessert.
Students get a 10% reduction. Here, too, there's a full bar,
and you can sit either inside or out on the waterfront
patio, with the boats in the harbor bobbing up and down just
a few feet away.
Acre After Dark
One of Acre's most enjoyable evening activities is strolling
around through the tiny Arabian Nights streets, past the old
khans and the towering minarets framed by moonlight and
stars, gazing from the old port out across the bay toward
the sparkling lights of Haifa and Acre's little lighthouse
on duty. On a quiet night, moonlight shining in, you can
stand in the courtyard of Khan El-Umdan and imagine all the
people, animals, activities, and human dramas that have
passed through here. Another atmospheric moonlight walk is
around the city's seawalls.
Exotic Arabic music fills the air day and night all around
Old Acre. Light and music pour out into the streets from the
open doors of billiard parlors, and you're welcome to come
in and shoot a few games.
You can sip a beer or cocktail at one of the waterfront
restaurants, at the Burj's rooftop nightclub during the warm
months, or at the other Burj meeting places. But if you're
ready for a real live striptease act, head for the Burj's
Han A-Sultan restaurant and nightclub on a Friday or
Saturday evening, open until 4am. Everyone is welcome.
The discotheque at the Palm Beach Hotel and Country Club
(Phone 04/991-2892) is open to everyone nightly in summer
months; only on Friday in winter. Music and dancing and one
drink are included in the NIS 20 ($5.60) cover charge. Also
at the Palm Beach is the outdoor Pundak Cafe, open in
summertime only, from 8:30pm to 1am, with live music on the
terrace, food, and drinks.
Side Trips from Acre
The main highway between Akko and Nahariya parallels
fragments of a stone aqueduct built by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha in
1780 over the ruins of a Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct
originally supplied Acre with water from the Galilee's
springs. Its picturesque ruins include many archways framing
sabra plants. Before you reach Nahariya, you will pass two
communities, just across the road from each other, that are
well worth a visit.
Kibbutz Lohammei HaGetaot, the Ghetto Defenders' Kibbutz, 2
miles north of Akko, was founded in 1949 by a small group of
survivors of Jewish ghettos in Poland and Lithuania.
Initially scattered in towns and refugee camps throughout
Israel, they felt they could best rebuild their lives among
others who had similar tragic memories as former partisans
and participants in Ghetto uprisings. The kibbutz
flourished, and today their children and grandchildren
manage the orchards, schools and factories of this very
The Ghetto Fighters' House (Phone 04/995-8080), a Museum of
the Holocaust and Resistance, and Yad La Yeled, the Memorial
and Museum of Children, document Jewish life in communities
throughout Europe before and during the Holocaust. The
complex contains a museum of writings, diaries, and artwork
from the ghettos and concentration camps, and these
detailed, very personal exhibits vividly inform us about the
ghetto uprisings and the destruction of Jewish communities,
including those in Holland, Saloniki, Vilna, and Hungary.
Among the many models and installations is a replica of the
Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Especially moving are the
paintings and drawings done by children. The museum is the
center for an international education program designed to
try to understand the Holocaust, in the hope that such
knowledge will help prevent such cruelties from being
permitted in the future. It's open Sunday to Thursday from
9am to 4pm; Friday from 9am to 1pm; and Saturday and Jewish
holidays from 10am to 5pm. There is no admission fee, but
contributions are accepted for the guided tours. Bus 271
(midday frequency every 30 minutes) from Haifa to Nahariya
will make request stops at the Kibbutz.
Just across the Akko-Nahariya Highway from Lohammei
HaGetaot, a sign points to Hatzrot Yatsaf, an absorption
center for the thousands of new Ethiopian Jewish immigrants
who continue to arrive in the country. This vast caravan
trailer community by the sea gives you a chance to glimpse
the most recent and perhaps the most exotic aliyah, or wave
of immigration to Israel. The stately, graceful immigrants,
some still wearing traditional white robes, are invariably
courteous and kind. After the road crosses the train tracks,
Hatzrot Yatsaf begins.
Things are always changing here, but after approximately 3
blocks a sign on the right should direct you to beit
hayotzer, the artisans' workshop, where black low-fire
terra-cotta ceramics and, at times, other crafts are
produced for sale. (If there is no sign, just keep asking.)
As you turn down this side road, Beit Hayotzer will be about
500 feet down on the left. The ceramic crafts on display at
the Beit Hayotzer Hatzrif Yasaf Ethiopian Craft Center
(Phone 04/991-6325) have their roots in traditional
Ethiopian pottery, but the designs also draw on the
artisans' encounter with a new society. There are ceramic
miniature tableaux depicting Ethiopian scenes and myths.
There are handmade Hanukkah menorahs incorporating Ethiopian
motifs, although since Ethiopian Jews were separated from
the mainstream of Judaism too early to have had knowledge of
the 2,200-year-old festival of Hanukkah, they did not
celebrate this holiday until they came to Israel. Look for
tiny, charming frogs, praying Ethiopian peasants, and rough
ceramic "marriage boxes" in which you will find a naive
representation of a couple involved in amorous activity. The
boxes are used as a kind of household signal, according to
the artisans -- a slightly open box is meant to convey that
at least one marriage partner is ready for lovemaking.
A number of the craftspeople have developed personal
followings among customers and collectors. Prices range from
one or two dollars to several hundred, and are about half
what they would cost at galleries in the main cities.
Salespeople here will often point out "seconds." I bought an
exotic lions' head menorah for $42 -- if perfect, it would
have been a $150 design. Proceeds go directly to the
artisans. The workshop will pack purchases for carrying, but
transport them with care: Terra-cotta is very breakable.
Open Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 4pm. No credit cards are
Where to Stay
Nes Ammim Guest House. Mobile Post, Ashrat 25225. Phone
04/995-0000. Fax 04/995-0098. 48 rms (all with bath). A/C
TV. $98-$140 double. Discount on Kibbutz Package Plan. Rates
include breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V. Drive north along highway
to signs pointing east to Nes Ammim and Regba; turn here and
go 4km (2 miles) inland.
Another short drive from Acre, to the north and through an
enchanting avocado forest, is a 200-member Christian village
organized in 1963 for the purpose of bringing Jews and
Christians into closer contact. While here, you can enjoy
the swimming pool, bar, the wonderful greenhouse creations,
the botanical gardens, and get a free tour of the community.
Guest rooms were redone during 1995-97. There are 13
family-size rooms; rooms for the disabled are also
available. Although not a kibbutz, the hotel is part of the
Kibbutz Guest House Association, and can be booked through
their packages. Study tours on the subject of
Jewish-Christian relations can be arranged through Nes
If you're not staying here, but are interested in the
community, call ahead and arrange for a tour. The Nes Ammim
community is especially interested in making the land alive
again, and you will be amazed by its efforts and dedication.
Coming by bus is a bit more of a challenge, but it can be
arranged; call ahead and they'll tell you the best way to do
7. Nahariya & North to the Border
Nahariya: 33km (20 miles) N of Haifa.
Founded by German Jews in the mid-1930s, Nahariya is a
popular summer resort with Israelis, but visitors are
catching on. On the Lag b'Omer holiday in the spring (the
only day a Jew can marry during the 6 weeks between Passover
and Shavuot holidays), Nahariya is packed with honeymooners.
Maybe there's a connection between Nahariya's honeymoon
attractions and the fact that archeologists dug up a
Canaanite fertility goddess on its beach.
This holiday town has an unusual main street: A stream
shaded by breezy eucalyptus trees runs down the middle.
There is a low-key, pleasantly small-town feeling to
Nahariya. Horse carts will take you around town; settle on a
price before you start out.
From Acre, take the no. 271 or 272 Haifa-Acre-Nahariya bus.
The ride is less than 25 minutes.
From Acre, Nahariya is a 15-minute drive north on the
When you leave the Central Bus Station, turn left and walk
down about half a block on Ha-Ga'aton. On the left you'll
see a small square, and at the far end of the square, a
seven-story edifice with flags waving in front. This is the
Municipal Building, where you'll find the Tourist
Information Office (Phone 04/987-9800), open Sunday to
Thursday from 9am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm, on Friday from 9am to
noon; closed Saturday.
If you're interested in meeting the locals, the staff at the
tourist office can arrange it. Local chapters of Rotary,
Lions, Soroptimists, and Freemasons also extend a warm
welcome to international members; contact the Tourist
Information Office for meeting times and places.
It's pretty easy to find your way around this small city.
The Central Bus Station and the railway station are just off
the main highway on Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard, Nahariya's main
road. Head down Ha-Ga'aton and you'll be going due west, to
the sea. Don't worry about the weight of your bags as you
only have to walk about five blocks to get to a hotel.
Beaches & Outdoor Pursuits
The beaches of Nahariya, the town's raison d'°tre from a
visitor's point of view, suffer, like other places on the
northern Israeli coast, from the region's lack of a sewage
treatment plant and the proximity of Lebanon, where decades
of chaos have led to garbage dumping into the sea. The junk
often swirls into Nahariya's waters, and at times in recent
years, coliform bacteria counts per 100 ml of seawater at
Nahariya were four times the Israeli Health Ministry's
acceptable level (although within the less strict standards
of other Mediterranean countries).
The main beach, Galei-Galil, just to the north of Ha-Ga'aton
Boulevard, has won prizes in the past for cleanliness and
safety. Today it also offers an Olympic-size outdoor pool, a
heated, glass-enclosed indoor pool open year-round, a
children's pool, dressing rooms, playgrounds for children,
and restaurants. It is open June through September, daily
from 8am to 6pm; October through May, daily until 5pm.
Admission is NIS 12 ($3.40); reductions for children.
At the marina breakwater you'll see people fishing off the
rocks, and you can rent a sailboat, or go snorkeling.
Tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts are other
attractions, as is the big water slide just on the north
side of the beach.
If you just want to take a dip in the Mediterranean, the
free Municipal Beach is two blocks south. The view from both
beaches is lovely. On a clear day -- and most of them are --
you can see all the way from Rosh Ha-Niqra at the Lebanese
border to the north to Haifa in the south.
For a hike with the Friends of Nature (Hovevei Hateva),
check with the Municipal Tourist Office (Phone 04/987-9800).
Hikes are often scheduled for Saturdays.
Museums & Ancient Sites
Nahariya's Municipal Museum is in the seven-story Municipal
Building, on Ha-Iriya Square. The fifth floor houses an art
exhibit. The sixth floor, in addition to an interesting
malacology (shell) collection, displays many artifacts from
the area around Nahariya, with its fascinating history
dating all the way back to the Stone Age. On the seventh
floor is a department showing the history of the town. The
museum is open Sunday to Friday from 10am to noon, plus
Sunday and Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 6pm. Admission is
Nahariya's ruins of a Canaanite temple were accidentally
discovered on Ha-Ma'apilim Street, a few yards up from the
Municipal Beach, in 1947. Experts believe it to be a temple
dedicated to the Canaanite goddess of the sea, Asherath (or
Astarte), dating from about 1500 B.C.
The beautiful mosaic floor of a 4th- to 7th-century
Byzantine Church can be seen on Bielefeld Street, near the
Katznelson School. The mosaic depicts the hunting and
working scenes as well as flora and fauna designs typical of
mosaic floors found in Byzantine churches, but is one of
finest yet discovered. Check with Tourist Information (Phone
04/987-9800) to arrange a visit. There may be an admission
fee of under $1.
Where to Stay
Most of Nahariya's hotels are located, quite logically, at
the western end of Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard near Galei-Galil
Beach. You can also check with the Municipal Tourist Office
(Phone 04/987-9800) for lists of rooms to rent in private
houses. Prices are around $25 to $35 per person, including
breakfast, depending on season and facilities.
Carlton Hotel. 23 Ha-Ga'aton St., Nahariya. Phone 04/992-
2211. Fax 04/982-3771. 200 rms (all with bath). A/C TV TEL.
$115-$220 double. Rates include breakfast. 15% service
charge. AE, MC, V.
Located on the main street in the center of town, this
six-story hotel is the best and most expensive in Nahariya.
Rooms are comfortable, but not really up to this price
category. There isn't a real beach atmosphere at this
location, but the hotel's heated outdoor pool, which is
covered in winter, provides the chance for off-season
swimming. In summer and weekends, the hotel is filled with
activities that, together with late-night main street
action, can be a bit too noisy for some. There is a sauna
Days Inn Frank Hotel. 4 Ha-Aliyah St. (P.O. Box 58),
Nahariya 22381. Phone 04/992-0278. Fax 04/992-5535. 50 rms
(all with bath or shower). A/C TV TEL. $85-$120 double.
Passover and Sukkot, add 15% to high-season rates. MC, V.
Founded over 50 years ago by a Nahariya family originally
from Germany, the Hotel Frank is efficiently run with a
careful, personal touch; it has recently affiliated with
Days Inn, but the same management continues and part of its
business is with long established clientele. Located just
back from Ha-Ma'apilim two blocks north of Ha-Ga'aton, this
1970s contemporary hotel is in a quieter neighborhood,
relatively close to the beach. It offers a small outdoor
swimming pool (the pool may soon be redone), rooms with
good, moderately firm beds, heating, and at times,
German-language TV channels.
Erna House. 29 Jabotinsky St., Nahariya. Phone 04/992-0170.
Fax 04/992-8917. 26 rms (all with bath or shower). A/C TV
TEL. $68-$78 double. Rates include breakfast. MC, V.
This neat, well-kept, two-star establishment is a converted
house with the look of a solid, comfortable little hotel.
It's a small family-run enterprise; the rooms come with
heat, carpeting, and a TV if you request one, at no extra
charge. Among other amenities is a video TV room.
Where to Dine
Nahariya is not exactly what you'd call a gourmet's mecca.
It's small and many vacation visitors have their meals at
their hotels. If you decide to go out, the first place to
try is Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard, with its bistros, sidewalk
cafes, and two commercial plazas, Ha-Banim Square (Kikar
Ha-Banim), and Ha-Iriya Square (Kikar Ha-Iriya). The plazas
are across Ha-Ga'aton from one another, at the intersection
with Herzl Street, half a block west of the bus station.
Each square has a cinema, lots of shops and other services,
and some indoor-outdoor snack bar eateries.
El Gaucho. Ha-Ga'aton Boulevard. Phone 04/992-8635. Main
courses NIS 32-75 ($9-$21). MC, V. Daily noon-midnight.
This restaurant specializes in Argentinean-style grilled
meat, and lots of it, cooked over the coals behind the many
cuts of fresh meat on display for all to see. The decor here
is ranch, with touches like cowhide chairs, a South American
pan flute, and horns on the walls. You can sit inside, or
out in back on the palapa-covered patio. The chefs are from
South America; much of the meat served here is veal. Menu
items range from an inexpensive half-chicken dinner to the
house specialty, a 750-gram (about 1 1/2 pounds) mixed grill,
a giant repast for two (or even more) people. All meat
dinners are served with bread and butter, baked potato with
butter and sour cream, vegetables, salad, dessert, and the
special chimichurra meat sauce that's so delicious you'll be
sopping it up with the bread.
Penguin Cafe. 33 Ha Ga'aton Blvd. Phone 04/992-4241. NIS 7-
40 ($2-$11.20). Daily from 8am to midnight. ICE
Located outside the big Penguin Restaurant complex (see
below), the menu includes such hot-weather favorites as
banana splits, milkshakes, and fruit cocktail, as well as
blintzes, pancakes, pastries, and beverages. You can even
order pizza with a kosher "shrimp" if you want something
different. There are also low-calorie frozen yogurts mixed
on the spot with the fresh fruits of your choice.
Penguin Restaurant. 21 Ha-Ga'aton Blvd. Phone 04/992-8855.
Main courses NIS 3365 ($9-$18.20). V. Daily 8am-11pm.
The newly renovated Penguin is the nearest thing Nahariya
has to a mall, with a bookstore and many trendy shops
surrounding the dining space. The menu runs from pasta to
schnitzel to Chinese food, fish, salads, and hamburgers.
Photos on the walls remind you of the original tin-roofed
Penguin and the bleak, empty landscape that was Nahariya in
Singapore Chinese Restaurant. Ha-Meyasdim and Jabotinsky.
Phone 04/992-4952. Reservations recommended summer weekends.
Main courses NIS 25-55 ($7-$15.40); set combination dinner
NIS 48 ($13.50). DC, MC, V. Lunch daily noon-3pm; dinner
daily 7pm-midnight. Closed Chinese New Year and major Jewish
Two blocks north of Ha-Ga'aton and across from the Yarden
and Eden hotels, you'll find this roomy place done up
pleasantly in Chinese decor. The menu contains 110 items; as
you'd expect, there are a number of Singapore specialties,
including lemon chicken, a Singapore Sling cocktail, or
Singapore ice cream with Chinese fruits for dessert.
Side Trips North of Nahariya
Heading north along the main road, after 4 kilometers (2 1/2
miles) you'll see the road to Akhziv Beach, on the left
(west). It's another kilometer (1/2 mile) to the beach
proper, where you'll find a parking lot, changing rooms,
shelters and snack stands, as well as freshwater showers.
It's open daily from 8am to 7pm in summer. There's a charge
of NIS 12 ($3.40) per person for admission during the summer
Heading north again, a kilometer (1/2 mile) past the Akhziv
Beach road, you'll pass the parking lot and entrance to
Akhziv National Park (Phone 04/982-3263) with its sheltered
beach, restaurant, picnic, and changing facilities amid the
ruins of a seaside Arab village.
Akhziv existed when Joshua assigned the tribes of Israel to
their various territories, and is mentioned in the Bible as
a Canaanite town that the tribe of Asher, to whom it was
allotted, was never able to conquer. At the Nahariya
Municipal Museum, you can learn about the varied history of
the town through the wealth of archeological artifacts on
In more recent times, Akhziv was an Arab village, but the
inhabitants fled in 1948 and the village remained deserted
for a number of years. In 1952, Eli Avivi, one of Israel's
legendary eccentrics, received government permission to
settle in Akhziv, and promptly declared the "independence"
of Akhzivland, which is just north of the park boundary. The
ramshackle building that is Akhzivland's main structure
houses Mr. Avivi's living quarters and his personal museum
of artifacts found on and near Akhzivland. You can visit the
museum for a small admission charge.
There is a NIS 12 ($3.60) summer admission to Akhziv
National Park, but off-season, you can sometimes just wander
through the gates and up the hill through the lovely
gardens. It's a beautiful spot for a picnic; there is a
guarded but somewhat rocky beach for swimming. The park is
open daily from 8am to 7pm. At the south end of the parking
lot is the entrance to Club M³diterran³e's vacation resort.
Where to Stay
A half kilometer (about 1/4 mile) north of Akhzivland is Yad
Le-Yad Hostel, P.O. Box 169, Nahariya (Phone 04/982-3345),
offers beds arranged in two-, four-, and six-bed rooms for
$24 per person, plus 21 rustic beach shelter/bungalows
housing four people for $17 per person.
Gesher Haziv & the Akhziv Bridge
While the town of Akhziv has a history going back to
biblical times, the name is most often remembered in
connection with a tragic, heroic event that took place here
on the night of June 17, 1946. Attempting to cut British
rail communications with neighboring Arab states, a Hagana
demolition team was destroying railroad bridges along this
line. At the Akhziv bridge, however, they were spotted by a
British sentry, who fired a flare in order to get a better
look. The flare ignited the team's explosives. The bridge
was blown, but no one survived. The 14 who perished are
commemorated by a large black metal monument across the road
from the youth hostel.
Where to Stay
Kibbutz Gesher Haziv Country Lodging. Phone 04/995-8568. Fax
04/982-5971. 26 rms (all with shower). A/C TEL. $60-$80
double. Rates include breakfast and service. AE, DC, MC, V.
Guests have access to the kibbutz seaside diving center and
horseback riding stables at discount prices. There are
simple but comfortable rooms with refrigerators and
coffeemakers, an outdoor swimming pool, and kosher dining
facilities. For an extra charge, you can use the health
club, Jacuzzi, and sauna, as well as 2 night-lit tennis
courts. The location is excellent, just 5 minutes from the
beach, and close to Akko, and many sites in the western
This dramatic site is on the border with Lebanon, astride a
tall cliff overlooking the sea. On a clear day, standing
atop the cliff, you can see the coastline as far as Haifa.
Beneath the cliffs are grottoes carved out by the sea,
reachable via cable car. Operating from 8:30am to 5pm (until
9 or 10pm in summer), on Friday until 3pm, the cable-car
ride and admission to the grottoes costs NIS 25 ($7) for
adults, with a discount for children and students. You can
walk into the caves and passages and see the pools of water
lapping the rocks. To see the artifacts that have been
recovered from these caves, visit the Municipal Museum in
To reach Rosh Ha-Niqra, take the bus from Nahariya, which
runs several times a day; sherut service is also available,
in front of the Nahariya Central Bus Station, on Ha-Ga'aton
Boulevard. You can dine at a reasonably priced self-service
restaurant on top of the cliff called Mitzpe Rosh Ha-Niqra.
The view is terrific. Open the same hours as the cable car.
Where to Stay
Rosh Ha Niqra IYHA Youth Hostel. Phone 04/982-5169. Fax
04/982-1330. 220 beds, family rms available. A/C. Dorm bed
$18.50; double rm (when available) $23 per person. Bus: 20
Surrounded by gardens, this often heavily booked well-run
hostel has pleasant dorm rooms with up to five beds, each
with its own bathroom; rooms are heated as well as
air-conditioned, and private or family rooms can be arranged
depending on how busy the hostel is. Wheelchair-accessible
accommodations are available. There's a swimming pool, meals
are served, and you can walk to the beach and hike to the
Rosh Ha Niqra grottoes. Reception is open Sunday to Thursday
from 8am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm; Friday from 8am to 1pm.
Chaim Weizmann: Statesman & Scientist
Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), biochemist, statesman, and first
president of Israel, was born in a small village near Pinsk,
in Russia. At the age of 11 (a decade before Herzl turned to
Zionism), Weizmann wrote, "Why should we look to the kings
of Europe for compassion that they should give us a resting
place? In vain, all have denied . . . to Zion! Jews to Zion
let us go!" A brilliant student, Weizmann gave lessons to
earn his tuition at Berlin's Institute of Technology in
Charlottenburg and at Fribourg University in Switzerland; in
1901, he began to teach at Geneva University. In 1903, in
response to pogroms in Russia, the British foreign secretary
proposed a Jewish homeland in a 5,000-square-mile area of
British East Africa (Uganda). Herzl seemed willing to accept
the offer; the young Weizmann sided with those who would not
accept Zionism without Zion. He married Vera Chatzman, a
Russian Jewish medical student, in 1906, and that year
accepted a teaching position at Manchester University. In
1906, Weizmann met with Prime Minister Balfour, who wanted
to interview an anti-Ugandist; Weizmann's charm and energy
impressed Balfour and won him access to the highest circles
of British society. He was lionized in 1916, after
developing a production process for synthesizing acetone
that was crucial to the British war effort. (In his
professional career, Dr. Weizmann received patents for over
100 processes and inventions.) Moving to London, he
continued to build support for a Jewish homeland in
Palestine. At the end of 1917, the Balfour Declaration was
In the 1920s and 1930s, as leader of the Zionist movement,
Weizmann worked to build the infrastructure of a modern
society in Palestine "house by house and dunam by dunam."
Without romantic illusion and with a passion for fairness,
Weizmann warned the Zionist movement to understand "the
truth that 600,000 Arabs live there [in Palestine] who,
before the sense of justice of the world have exactly the
same right to their homes in Palestine as we have to our
National Home." In 1937, addressing a Royal Commission on
the Partition of Palestine, he prophetically explained the
plight of European Jewry: "There are 6 million people . . .
for whom the world is divided into places where they cannot
live, and places which they cannot enter."
Weizmann's eloquence could not alleviate the vast tragedy
that World War II brought to his people. In 1942, his own
son was killed in action with the Royal Air Force over the
British Channel. Struggling through the breakdown of his
health and a hostile postwar British government, Weizmann's
final achievement was winning American support for the
incipient Jewish state in 1948. In February 1949, he was
elected president of Israel, a position he held until his
death. The title of Vera Weizmann's memoirs, The Impossible
Takes Longer, summarizes the philosophy behind her husband's
heavily burdened but determined optimism.
The Anglo-Saxon Connection
Visitors to Israel from English-speaking countries are often
amazed at how easy it is to get around using their native
language, especially in light of the fact that Israel's two
official languages, Hebrew and Arabic, don't even share
alphabets that remotely resemble our own. In major cities,
signs, traffic instructions, and restaurant menus are almost
always in both English and Hebrew. Israeli entrepreneurs
have become adept at designing shop signs and logos that
blend English and Hebrew lettering (which are written in
opposite directions) into interesting compositions and the
chance is good that your 20-something wait person, the
sales clerk where you take your film to be developed, or the
elderly Palestinian owner of a grocery shop will be able to
shift into fluent English at a moment's notice. And unlike
many European countries, which dub English-language films
and television programs, in Israel you won't have to watch
Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, or Jerry Seinfeld bantering away
Of course, the British were here from 1918 to 1948, but 30
years of the British Mandate are only one part of the
formula that has made Israel so user-friendly to the
English-speaking world. Immigrants to Israel from
English-speaking countries, though less than 2% of the
general population, have had an impact far beyond their
numbers. Known locally (and to their own bemusement) as
Anglo-Saxons, these Israelis have provided two of the
nation's eight presidents -- Chaim Weizmann, a British
subject whose scientific discoveries were crucial to the
Allied victory in World War I; and Dublin-born Chaim Herzog,
whose father served as chief rabbi of Ireland. Golda Meir, a
former schoolteacher from Milwaukee, held many important
positions in Labor Party governments, including that of
prime minister from 1969 to 1974. Prime Minister and
standard bearer of the Likud Coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu,
is also from an American family. Israel's most famous and
eloquent diplomat, South African-born Cambridge-educated
Abba Eban, served as ambassador to the United Nations and
was foreign minister for many years; the American-born Moshe
Arens was foreign minister in the Likud governments of the
1980s and early 1990s. Henrietta Szold, the Baltimore-born
first president of Hadassah, held the social welfare
portfolio of the National Council of Palestine Jewry in the
1930s and was responsible for developing many elements of
the emerging nation's system of health, education, and
social services. South Africans, Britons, and Americans were
heavily involved in creating the Association for Civil
Rights in Israel, and are in the forefront of the women's
rights, religious rights, and ecology and peace movements.
Americans are also strongly represented in the West Bank and
Gaza Settlement movements. Despite their extraordinary
contribution, Anglo-Israelis are regarded by many of their
fellow countrymen as something of a people apart.
The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI)
and the British Olim Society (for British, South African,
and Australian immigrants), with branches in most main
cities, offer busy schedules of lectures, get-togethers,
activities, tours, and legal advice for seniors, singles,
and families, and are a terrific resource for
English-speaking visitors who plan to stay in Israel for an
extended period of time.
We [from English-speaking countries] have experienced
democracy at first hand. We know what democracy is and
should be. That can be, perhaps has been, our greatest
-- Alice Shalvi, Israeli educator and founding chairwoman,
Israel Women's Network
Robert Ullian, The Golden Coast. , Frommer's Israel, 01-01-1998.