Saturday, January 14, 2012

News from Jaffa, Friday, 13 January 2012

Uri in the Jaffa Port
Tel Aviv from Jaffa
Friday the 13th began in Jaffa, the older city south of Tel Aviv --- older by about four thousand years!  The city was long a port on the Mediterranean coast in modern times before being eclipsed by deeper water ports to the south and north.  Today the city has a significant Arab population as well as many newer immigrants to Israel from places like Ethiopia and the Sudan.  As a consequence the city has all the challenges of any city in the world:  areas of significant wealth and significant poverty.

House of Simon the Tanner
Like many cities Jaffa is filled with contrasts.  The central area around the ancient port has small homes on small streets inaccessible to motorized traffic.  Among the homes in this area is a home, owned by an Armenian family, that is the supposed home of Simon the Tanner with whom Peter is said to have stayed on several occasions.

View to the South from Central Square
Above the port is the old central square with wonderful views to the north and to the south.  The square is dominated by St Peter's Roman Catholic Church, built on the site of an older Byzantine church upon whose foundations the Crusaders built fortifications.  The present church dates from 1903, but its interior is quite baroque in its architecture and art.

Jaffa has a thriving artists' colony so the central square has several pieces of public art.  My favourite is the Zodiac Fountain, built upon the foundations of an ancient fountain dating at least two thousand years earlier.  Although I am not a fan of astrology, I did delight in the Taurus fountainhead.

Taurus the Bull
From Jaffa we boarded the bus for our ascent to Jerusalem some 60 kilometres to the east.  More on our first day in Jerusalem later.

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