Considered to be one of Tel Aviv’s prettiest districts, Neve Tzedek lies south east of the Yemenite quarter and the famous Carmel Market and attracts legions of walking visitors thanks to its amazing architecture, cultural legacy and village-like atmosphere.
The first Jewish neighborhood outside of Jaffa’s walls, today Neve Tzedek, which translated means Oasis of Justice, really lives up to its legend as a peaceful haven and retreat from the hubbub of Tel Aviv. Many locals, as well as tourists, happily spend time wandering the attractive narrow streets, admiring the restored buildings, visiting the attractions and enjoying a bite or two in the cute Neve Tzedek restaurants and cafes.
Certainly a place to stroll around on a lazy afternoon; just make sure to bring your camera!
The history of Neve Tzedek
By the late 1800’s Jaffa (today lying at the southern end of Tel Aviv) was becoming very overcrowded. In 1887 a group of Jewish families went outside the city walls to build new homes, developments to support the community soon followed and Neve Tzedek was born.
As more immigrants made their way to Israel in the early 1900s, with Jaffa already bursting, the development naturally spread beyond the city walls and so in 1909, Tel Aviv was born.
In the following years, the attraction of Neve Tzedek soon fizzled and many of its inhabitants left for the new and modern developing areas of Tel Aviv. The community of Neve Tzedek appeared broken, leaving behind a neglected and decaying slum.
City officials drew up plans to redevelop the neighborhood in the 1960s with high rise apartment blocks, but by this time the old streets were peppered with buildings with preservation orders and residents of Tel Aviv were starting to trickle back, being appreciative of the escape from the hustle and bustle of uptown Tel Aviv.
By the end of the 1980s, gentrified with new life, the beautiful old buildings were turned into something more functional and a rebirth and renewed interest in Neve Tzedek was very much prevalent.
Art and artistry in Neve Tzedek
Neve Tzedek may have been born out of practicality but it is art and artistry that has made it the attraction for visitors today.
The original buildings in the narrow streets were at the forefront of contemporary design and you can see features that fit in the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) and Bauhaus art movements.
The neighborhood has attracted artists and writers for many years. Notable residents have included Nobel prize winner Shmuel Yosef Agnon, writer Yosef Haim Brenner and artist Nachum Gutman. And yes, despite the strong liberal overtones running through the neighborhood, even the very first Rabbi of Neve Tzedek, who established a Yeshiva in the district, maintained strong connections with many of the writers and artists in Neve Tzedek.
What to see and do in Neve Tzedek
Tourists most often find themselves in Neve Tzedek to escape the hectic pace of central Tel Aviv. Here, the peace and quiet of the narrow streets has the bonus of being a real destination for shopping, eating out and enjoying the craftsmanship and creativity of the neighborhood’s artists.
The streets are not only home to many beautiful individual houses restored to full glory, but you can also spend hours browsing (and buying) boutiques, galleries and various craft shop goodies.
Shabazi Street is Neve Tzedek’s main thoroughfare but make sure you wander down the side lanes to uncover some surprising little shops and buildings.
The Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater is Israel’s premier dance center and is located in the former Yechiely Girls School, one of the original educational establishments in the very young Neve Tzedek in 1908. Constructed in the Bauhaus style, the main complex of the center sits in an expansive piazza which has received acclaimed architectural recognition. You can also enjoy some very pleasant small gardens and enjoy a snack in Café Suzanna.
A visit to the ceramics studio of Samy D (Shabazi Street 56) is always a pleasurable experience and you can stop in on your way to the Suzanne Dellal Center.
Edition by Sagit Goldin is a place for design, lifestyle and coffee. The concept store, located in a 130 year remodeled building is at 27 Slush Street, offers Scandinavian style furniture, tasteful fashion, accessories of all kinds and even toys. And if you’re tired of shopping, have a coffee and sandwich in the Edition café, listen to pleasant music and enjoy the view out of the window of Neve Tzedek’s charming alleys.
Other notable buildings for your visit include The Rokach House, one of the very early buildings of Neve Tzedek and the Clouche House the very building that today is home to an art gallery. You can take a trip up to the roof to enjoy a cooling sea breeze whilst enjoying the panorama of Tel Aviv.
In the Nachum Gutman Museum on Rokach Street, another fine architectural example of the Bauhaus style, you can see exhibits of the artist and also learn about the history of Neve Tzedek.
One of the highlights of visiting Neve Tzedek is the food experience and you should find time to spend in one of many Neve Tzedek eateries. With pavement cafés, street take-aways, trendy bistros and restaurants with shaded courtyards, the neighborhood eateries are a varied bunch boasting a wide range of cuisines.
One of the most acclaimed of Neve Tzedek restaurants is Tazza D’oro on 6 Ehad Ha’am Street (now sadly closed – see our other recommendations below). With its good music and good food and coffee especially imported from Rome, the Tazza D’oro has the perfect ambiance to complement your visit. You can enjoy a fine cup of coffee and a snack or a tasty meal in its pretty yard and all for a decent price that still leaves plenty of money in your wallet to fritter away on the baubles, trinkets and artistic paraphernalia of Neve Tzedek.
Other fine places to stop by for something to eat include NG (6 Ehad Ha’am Street), a great place to stuff yourself full of steak entricote, A Place for Meat on Shabazi 64, and Bellini, a fantastic Italian restaurant (6 Yehieli Street).
Just walk around and enjoy yourself: we’re sure you’ll agree with us that Neve Tzedek is one of the most delightful places to visit in Tel Aviv – yes, highly recommended!