Starting in the late 19th century Jaffa prospered, as thousands of Jews returning to their ancestral homeland, landed there. But the British, who had captured all of the Land of Israel from the Turks in 1917, needed a deep water port for 20th-century shipping and Jaffa did not fit the bill. Thus, it began to fall by the wayside.
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv had developed its own small port to the North. Nevertheless, as Tel Aviv grew into Israel's largest city and economic and cultural capital, Jaffa also developed as an integral part of the metropolis. Today, the narrow alleyways and ancient fishing port of Old Jaffa contrast with the pulsating modernity of Tel Aviv immediately to the north.
As a Mediterranean port city steeped in heritage and tradition, Jaffa is a perfect venue for tourism of many types, and now the Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa has been working to remodel and renovate it with an eye to transforming this area into a major attraction for tourists from all over the world.
Attention has been focused already on the flea market itself and the Turkish clocktower, a new boutique hotel will occupy the space of the old police station at the entrance to the city and other work is being carried out - or in various stages of planning - to transform the northern entrance to Jaffa into a vibrant tourism destination. In addition, plans have been developed for renewing the Old City and adjacent Old Jaffa Port and for taking advantage of this neighborhood, close to the sea, as a site for further development that will also include the construction of new hotels.
In order to savor Jaffa's true maritime spirit, it is worth relaxing at one of the fish restaurants around the ancient harbor, arriving at the harbor via the steep winding steps of the Old City. The port houses simple fishing boats as well as some modern yachts (but grandiose plans to transform the quayside into a high-tech marina with surrounding luxury apartments have so far been thwarted by environmentalists). Jaffa is especially popular at nights, when the balmy Mediterranean air is tempered by sea breezes. Israelis and tourists alike enjoy strolling through the alleyways, stopping at a cafe, restaurant or night club. The Noga Theater and annual cultural events like "Jaffa Nights," a series of free outdoor summertime concerts by leading Israeli musicians, make this ancient town a major center for leisure-time activities.