Trip to Israel – more on historical Jaffa

Jaffa is now part of what is called Tel Aviv-Yafo in modern day Israel. A city with a long and historic past, it changed hands in ancient times between ancient Egyptians, conquering Greeks and of course the Romans.

From the reign of Constantine to Heraclius in the seventh century AD, it was part of the eastern Roman empire – or Byzantine if you prefer. Then in 1099, as Jerusalem fell to the crusaders so did Jaffa – which was termed the ‘port of Jerusalem’.

From 1291, the Mamelukes invaded from Egypt and it would remain under their control until 1515 when the Ottoman Turks swept in and they would rule it until 1917 when General Allenby took it for the British Empire. There’s still a main avenue in Tel Aviv named after Allenby.

Most of Jaffa is in a state of what one might term genteel ruination. It’s being tarted up and I saw luxury flats being built in to the old walls. Many of the fortifications were damaged by Napoleon and then the Ottomans who took down a lot of the walls in the 1870s and then the British in the 1930s. It’s now part of Israel though retains a distinctive Arabic flavour to the rest of neighbouring Tel Aviv.

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