Tel Aviv is a very unusual city. First, even though the oldest port in the world Jaffa is adjacent, Tel Aviv itself is only 100 years old; practically an infant in Israel. Because of its youth, Tel Aviv had certain opportunities that other cities in the Middle East did not enjoy, principally the ability to plan the look and feel of the urban area. A key part of this distinctive design are the thousands of Bauhaus style buildings, combining to give Tel Aviv the nickname The White City.
As I learned during my tour of Tel Aviv, Bauhaus refers to an actual school of design in Germany, active in the first quarter of the 20th Century. Bauhaus design emphasized modernism and included elements of the arts and crafts movement in their desire to create functional buildings. The movement arrived in Tel Aviv as a result of German architects and artists who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Their flight coincided with the development of the new garden city in the desert and the White City was born.
White City refers to the white or light colors most of the Bauhaus buildings use in order to keep the homes cool. More than just buildings, the movement also emphasized community and tried to build neighborhoods that would facilitate neighborly interaction.
As soon as I booked my airfare to Tel Aviv, I knew that a visit to these buildings classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site would be at the top of my list. On my first morning I walked up and down Rothschild Boulevard, home to many of the Bauhaus buildings, and took my time to examine this unique architectural heritage.
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