Tel Aviv

This section originates from information collected for the guidebook published in 2000.

Tel Aviv is by far the largest city in Israel, and has grown steadily since 1909 when it was founded by Jewish immigrant families building their houses on the shores of the Mediterranean. It has become Israel’s most important commercial and cultural centre. It is a bustling and modern city, with little of historical importance, and for the tourist the main interests would be the shops, the nightlife, the beach, and some of the major museums. It has relatively little to offer the pilgrim to the ‘Holy Land’, apart from sites in the adjacent town of Jaffa. However, it does have Independence Hall from whose steps Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish state on May 14th 1948 when the British Mandate ended.

The city is basically flat, apart from the hill on which Old Jaffa is built. Driving can be difficult, because of the city rush, the number of one-way streets, and the lack of signs and good maps. If you’re hassled by traffic, this may be a place to rely on the use of taxis. If you want to stay, then your hotel location could be particularly important, relative to either the beach or to the shopping and entertainment centre around Dizengoff Square.

One of the attractions of the city is the array of distinctive neighbourhoods, which reflect the diverse backgrounds of its inhabitants who have arrived from many different countries. It is also a major seaside resort, with sandy beaches, cafés and bars in abundance along several kilometres of sea front. There are numerous hotels along the seafront (in Hayarkon Street) but these inevitably tend to be quite expensive. Some have well adapted rooms. Hotels set back a short distance from the sea front are considerably cheaper.

Its layout is fairly straightforward, with a grid of streets bounded on the west by Hayarkon, and on the east by a motorway called Ayalon. At the north side there is a large park and the river Nakhal Yarkon and Tel Aviv University campus lies to the north of the river. Old Jaffa is to the south. The streets don’t always go straight, and there is a story that Allenby was originally meant to be a main north-south link but that it was diverted, to reach a coffee house on the beach. Around Tel Aviv there are extensive suburbs, for example on the east side of Ayalon, and the ribbon development along the coast southwards to Ashkelon and northwards through Herzlia and Netanya.

Tourist Information Office, City Hall, 69 Ibn Gvirol Street, 64162 Tel: 03 521-8500Fax: 03 521-6423. City Hall is in Rabin Square. From the square, there are more than 20 steps up to the first floor level where the office is. To reach it from the pedestrian level in the square, go round the building to the right towards the Rabin Memorial, and near the bottom of some other steps there is a door marked with a ‘wheelchair’ sign. Alongside the door is an intercom, and this should enable you to get the door opened and get access to a lift. The building was closed when we visited, so we didn’t use this route.

a couple of typical write-ups:

Tel Aviv Museum of Art 27 Shaul HaMelekh Street Tel: 03 696-1297, is near the junction with Weizman. It houses an extensive collection of interesting impressionist and post-impressionist art. It’s quite big, measuring something like 100 by 100m. Parking in the street, up to 100m away, with some disabled persons spaces. If you ring you may be able to park in the staff CP off Berkovitz Street.

There’s a big plaza in front, with about 75m from the road to the entrance. Flat/ramped access almost everywhere in the museum. The lift (D90 W150 L100) to the right of the entrance links all three floors. The ramp from the entrance hall gives step free access to two mezzanine floors. Wherever you encounter some steps, they can be avoided by either coming back to the ramp or the lift and going up or down a level as appropriate. The auditorium is reached via -13 steps from the entrance, with a platform stairlift to bypass them. There are chair spaces at the back and it is step free to row 15,. In the basement there is a café, and a children’s ‘creative’ area. Adapted toilet (outerD68, D70+ ST60) near the café, with the key kept behind the counter.

The museum is due to be enlarged by about 20% with a new wing.

The Azrieli Centre is by Hashalom station and also the Ayalon junction with Kaplan which runs into Ha’Tachmoshet on the bridge over the motorway. It is a huge shopping complex with a number of cafés, over a massive UGCP. This can be approached from several different sides, including one off Ayalon south. There are many disabled persons parking spaces on level -2 WITH a good space alongside the car for getting out ! There are several blocks of lifts (all D100+ W130+ L200+). On the two shopping floors there are three main legs stretching out from a central plaza. These legs vary in length from 50m to 120m, which gives an idea of the sheer size of the place. In the toilet blocks on each floor there are two unisex wheelchair toilets (D70+ ST70+) built to a good specification. We found more wheelchair accessible toilets in this one building than we did in the whole of the rest of Tel Aviv ! It is certainly a good place for shopping, and might even be a place to spend time on a rainy day if you’ve nowhere else to go.