(Photo of Old Jaffa by David Diaz via Trover.com)
Already been to all the main tourist sites of Tel Aviv? Want to immerse yourself in lesser-known but nonetheless serious and historic Israeli culture for a little while? Consider visiting some of the most compelling hidden gems of Tel Aviv that most travel guides won't tell you about.
Ethnic art created right before your eyes
Ben Zion David, whose gallery is located in the picturesque Old Jaffa neighborhood, learned to create Yemenite silver jewelry at the age of 10, working alongside his father in his workshop. David's gallery is open to the public, so you can come and see him hard at work.
He still uses the ancient jewelry making tools and techniques handed down through the generations. David creates pieces for museums and private collectors and also designs jewelry to be sold commercially. If you're looking to take home souvenirs that no one else has, purchase some of the Yemenite designs that integrate modern fashion aesthetics with a timeless techniques.
International intrigue, graphics and survival
On an easily overlooked side street in Tel Aviv is a museum called the Joseph Bau House. Opened by the daughters of Joseph Bau, the museum tells the life story of this remarkable individual and his creations.
Immigrating to Israel in 1950, the Krakow-born Bau was a pioneer in the use of animation in Israeli film projects. A typography expert and a skilled graphic designer, he had been forced to create maps and signs for the Nazis, but thanks to a relationship with Oskar Schindler, he was able to secretly marry his beloved Rebecca and secure a transfer from the Plaszow death camp to a factory in Czechoslovakia. In addition to the graphical work that he produced in his Tel Aviv studio, Bau was commissioned by the Mossad to forge documents on several occasions.
Templers gone upscale
An up-and-coming neighborhood in Tel Aviv with a rich and fascinating history, the American Colony was first established in the 1860s by a group of pilgrims from Maine who were swayed by Methodist Preacher George J. Adams. Unfortunately, Adams was an alcoholic and a con man, so his promises of rich lands and prosperity were proved false almost as soon as the Americans arrived. The group eventually disbanded, leaving behind a church that still stands and selling their land to a group of Templers who renamed the complex the German Colony.
In recent years, renovations have taken place to reverse the disrepair of previous years. Visit the Maine Friendship House Museum, which opened in a wooden house originally brought over on a sailing vessel. And check out the new luxury development currently being built here, which will preserve most of the original buildings. The complex is walking distance from many Tel Aviv hotels.
Dig deeper for a more enriching experience
There are so many interesting cultural and historical sites in Tel Aviv that are not mentioned in the mainstream tourist websites. But if you know how to find them you can enrich your Israel trip with a deeper understanding of what the city is all about.