The White City of Tel Aviv

April 12, 2012 by

Sightseeing, Things To Do, Travel Tips

Typical building in Tel Aviv's White City.

Typical building in Tel Aviv's White City. Photo courtesy of Sam Back via Wikipedia.

The largest single gathering of Bauhaus and/or International-style architecture in the world, the so-called “White City” neighborhood in Tel Aviv earned UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2003. It’s easy to see why. Located in the heart of the modern city, the neighborhood consists of more than a thousand square white buildings with rounded terraces and pillars, and austere, geometrical roof-lines and facades intended to complement each other in a sort of muted, asymmetrical interplay.

Due to the closing of the Bauhaus School of Berlin by the Nazis in early 1933, a flood of prominent Jewish architects affiliated with the style fled to the then British Mandate of Palestine, where plans to construct a “garden city” (Tel Aviv) in the desert outside Jaffa were well underway. By the height of this movement, the neighborhood contained as many as four thousand Bauhaus structures.

It’s unthinkable to consider a first trip to Tel Aviv without at least a brief visit to the neighborhood (many make the journey for this reason alone). While there, be sure to stop into the Bauhaus Center and the Bauhaus Museum to help you get oriented.

Though the White City is unique in the sheer concentration of Bauhaus structures it contains, the style (specifically designed as it was to create dwellings and public spaces suitable for habitation in the hot Mediterranean climate) has come to dominate the modern, Israeli approach to architecture.

 

- John Reality

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