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We marched out at the stately Damascus gate, and the walls of Jerusalem shut us out forever. We paused on the summit of a distant hill and took a final look and made a final farewell to the venerable city which had been such a good home to us. (..) We came finally to the noble grove of orange-trees in which the Oriental city of Jaffa lies buried; we passed through the walls, and rode again down narrow streets and among swarms of animated rags, and saw other sights and had other experiences we had long been familiar with.
Mark Twain - The Innocents Abroad - 1869
Restored houses in the south-eastern part of Jaffa next to which the old walls were situated
For the last half hour we rode along a narrow lane bordered on each side by the city gardens which abound in orange, lemon, almond, mulberry, olive and fig trees, sycamores, prickly pears and produce large quantities of tobacco.
At a quarter before seven we entered the city by the sole gate, there were seven, but the Aga (governor) has shut up six to render the police of the city easier, on the left side of which was a small castle with four or five guns and on the right a beautiful small vineyard. The wall incloses the city on three sides, there being none towards the sea, and it has a fosse all round it, except at a castle on the south westerly corner.
William Turner - Journal of a Tour in the Levant - 1820
The walls of Jaffa do not exist any longer, but their location can be guessed by the remaining old houses of the town.
The old harbour
We rode through wretched small dirty streets and a narrow quay which was crowded with pilgrims departing for Constantinople, Damietta and Cyprus. (..) Crowds of these pilgrims are now lining the narrow quay under my window making a terrible noise preparing to embark; some crying for their baggage, some bastinadoed (beaten with canes) by the Turks and others remonstrating against the extortions of the boatmen who have raised the passage from the shore to the ships from fifteen paras to two piastres. W. Turner
We dismounted, for the last time, and out in the offing, riding at anchor, we saw the ship! I put an exclamation point there because we felt one when we saw the vessel. The long pilgrimage was ended, and somehow we seemed to feel glad of it. M. Twain
The port which my window looks on is execrable (unpleasant) being a long narrow shallow basin inclosed by rocks and the roadsted (a place outside a harbour where a ship can lie at anchor) is unsafe in winter for the boats of the country. W. Turner
The timbers used in the construction of Solomon's Temple were floated to Jaffa in rafts, and the narrow opening in the reef through which they passed to the shore is not an inch wider or a shade less dangerous to navigate than it was then. M. Twain
As Perseus rounded the coast of Philistia he caught sight of a naked woman chained to a sea-cliff, and instantly fell in love with her. (..) Poseidon sent a flood and a female sea-monster to devastate Philistia and (..) the Oracle of Ammon told that the only hope of deliverance lay in sacrificing Andromeda, the king's daughter, to the monster. She was therefore chained to a rock, naked except for certain jewels, and left to be devoured. (..) Perseus grasped his sickle and, diving miraculously from above, beheaded the approaching monster. The marks left by Andromeda's chain are still pointed out on a cliff near Jaffa. From Robert Graves - The Greek Myths - Collins
(left) St. Peter's and the Franciscan monastery; (right) coat of arms of the Franciscans in the Holy Land with the symbol of the Holy Sepulchre
We were well received by the Vice Consul's son, who, as he had not expected us, had not prepared the only habitable chamber and put us into such a filthy room that I went to the convent, to the superior of which Padre Clemente had given me a letter, to sleep. Here I found five of the monks whom I had known in Jerusalem who were on their return to Spain and had just hired a boat for Cyprus in which island they hoped to find an occasion for Mahon (Minorca) or France. They received me with open arms and earnestly invited me to go with them to Cyprus as the plague was very bad in Egypt. But as I find on inquiry that they rather exaggerated the danger I shall stick to my original route. I supped with my companion at the Vice Consul's whose house is close to the wall of the city on the south west and slept most soundly at the convent. W. Turner
The church was built in 1888-94, whereas the convent dates 1650 and it stands on the site of a Crusader castle built by King Louis IX of France.
(left) Entrance to the Greek Orthodox monastery/hostel; the letters around the cross mean "Jesus Christ Wins"; (right) Greek flag (left) and flag of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (right) with the letters tau and phi making up Taphos, Greek for the Tomb - the symbol of the Orthodox Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre; (inset) another flag of the Brotherhood in Jerusalem
Whenever one sees a Franciscan church/monastery/hostel in the Holy Land, he/she can be sure to see a similar Greek Orthodox building in its proximity. Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox never share a hostel or a hospital for pilgrims; at Nazareth they claim the Annunciation occurred in two different locations, in the Holy Sepulchre they have two different holes marking the site where the Cross stood and because of the different calendars, they do not celebrate Christmas and Easter on the same days.
(left) A corner of Old Jaffa near the House of Simon the Tanner; (right) another old building
Simon the Tanner formerly lived here. We went to his house. All the pilgrims visit Simon the Tanner's house. Peter saw the vision of the beasts let down in a sheet when he lay upon the roof of Simon the Tanner's house. It was from Jaffa that Jonah sailed when he was told to go and prophesy against Nineveh, and no doubt it was not far from the town that the whale threw him up when he discovered that he had no ticket. Jonah was disobedient, and of a fault-finding, complaining disposition, and deserves to be lightly spoken of, almost. M. Twain
(left) Suleyman Pacha fountain (1808); (right) late Ottoman building
To the right on entering the gate is a pretty fountain. W. Turner
During the XIXth century the Ottomans made some attempts to improve facilities for pilgrims en route to Jerusalem.
Landmarks: (from left to right) clock tower; minaret of the main mosque; minaret of al-Bahar mosque; bell tower of St. George's, a Greek Orthodox church (a most unusual bell tower for a Greek Orthodox church!)
At the beginning of the XXth century Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II decided to celebrate his accession to the throne by erecting a series of clock towers (at Constantinople near Dolmabahce Sarayi, his residence on the Bosporus). Some of these clock towers were eventually pulled down including that in Jerusalem, but at Acre and Jaffa they are still a landmark. In 1947-48 Jaffa was the site of fierce fighting between Jews and Arabs during which some buildings were blown up. It was eventually united to Tel Aviv, but its population is still mainly Arab.
Jaffa Railway Station
In 1890 Ottoman authorities authorized a French company to build a railway between Jaffa and Jerusalem. The line was completed in 1892. The railway station was built at some distance from the northern walls of Jaffa. The station was closed in 1948. Today it houses shops and cafés.
Tel Aviv seen from the archaeological park of Jaffa
The journey in the Holy Land of William Turner and Mark Twain ended at Jaffa from where they sailed for Alexandria. They could not, but you may wish to glimpse at Tel Aviv.
The image used as background for this page shows a modern fountain depicting Jonah's whale.