5 reasons to visit Tel Aviv – Part 3: Art & culture

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Tim Firmager

Tim divides his time being a Digital Consultant in The City and as a food and travel writer across the globe. When he's not working as one of the Lifestyle Editors here at Vada, he's planning his next trip, or on the lookout for the latest food crazes or unusual foods in London's markets.
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Known in the community primarily for its annual pride parade, Tel Aviv is a destination that has a lot more to offer. Tel Aviv has a thriving LGBT scene, and given the high number of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the city, there is a much more accepting and open atmosphere than you may expect from Israel.

Tel Aviv is set on the western coast of Israel, with beach running almost the full length of the city. This coastal position and the year-round sunshine gives the high-tech city an almost Californian vibe.

On the scene there are a mix of LGBT-friendly venues, from Evita (Tel Aviv’s oldest gay bar), to cool hangouts such as Shpagat (a relaxed hangout for coffee, food and drinks).

Is Tel Aviv beginning to sound like an ideal gaycation? Whether you plan to visit over Pride month or simply need some winter sun, this series of articles outlines our five reasons why you should consider Tel Aviv.

In this third article we look at the thriving cultural side, from the Bauhaus architecture scattered across the city to the plethora of art museums and galleries.

Tel Aviv - Bauhaus architecture

4. Bauhaus architecture

Walking around Tel Aviv you may notice similarities in some of the buildings: white with clean lines, simple design and significantly less glass than their European equivalents. This is Bauhaus architecture and is not in Tel Aviv by chance.

Large areas of Tel Aviv are known as the White City, referring to the some 4,000 buildings built in the Bauhaus style from the 1930s now protected as a UNESCO world heritage site. This prominent number of Bauhaus structures came about because of a large number of German Jewish architects (studying Bauhaus design) immigrating to then-Palestine during the rise of the Nazis.

Bauhaus architecture is based on a set of principles, aiming to provide unity in architecture through functionality and inexpensive building materials. In Tel Aviv, this has been tailored to deal with the additional constraint of the hot climate. Bauhaus buildings are therefore typically white, with minimal glass and large walls to reflect heat. Flat roofs provide a common area for residents to socialise and in public spaces these have become roof gardens with bars. Keen observers will note slits within the form of balconies to allow warm air to escape without rising to the floors above.

Rothschild Boulevard is one of the main roads on which Bauhaus architecture has remained a prominent feature. There is an ongoing government programme to continue to restore deteriorating Bauhaus structures and you will even note Bauhaus features in some of the more modern buildings along Rothschild Boulevard. Hotel Cinema, discussed in part 1 of this series, located at Dizengoff Square, is a remarkable example of this unmistakable architecture that makes up Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv - Ilana Goor Museum

5. Thriving art scene

Having taken time to admire the architecture, enjoyed the Hilton beach with Tel Aviv’s year-round sun, and eaten the freshest hummus available, you may want to inject some culture into your holiday. If this is the case, there is a thriving art scene in Tel Aviv, and these are our top picks.

One of the most interesting galleries in Jaffa is the Ilan Goor museum, home to the theatrical artist and collector of contemporary art. Goor is known for her jewellery design (including a piece made for the Obamas), combining contrasting materials (like bronze with perspex), and using ready-made items in larger pieces. She has had a connection with the US since her 20s having designed belts for men and exhibited in Los Angeles. What is different about the Ilana Goor museum is that this is also the residence of the artist herself, meaning you may actually meet her if she is at home. Guided tours are available you can purchase your own unique piece of jewellery at the shop.

Tel Aviv - Museum of Art

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is the focal point in the city for art lovers and perhaps one of the greatest museums of modern art in the world. The museum boasts collections by Israeli and international artists alike. Currently exhibitions include Growth Engines by Israeli artist Eli Gur Arie, showing the ecological and biological consequences of a possible apocalyptic event.

The eccentric duo Elmgreen & Dragset (of Denmark and Norway) present their first exhibition in Israel, including the satirical Other Landscapes, Modern Moses (perhaps their boldest piece), and For as Long as It Lasts (a reflection on the similarities between the Berlin wall and the conflict between Israel and the occupied West Bank territories).

Alternatively, Florentin, one of the poorer neighbourhoods in Tel Aviv but perfectly safe to visit, is the place to see the best street art in Tel Aviv. Murals aren’t on the scale as you might find in east London but complex in political undertones and give an insight into the thoughts and feelings of Tel Aviv locals.

Enjoy your next trip to Tel Aviv!

More information

For more information about Tel Aviv, visit the Think Israel website.

Tim flew out with Monarch. Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year-round flights to Tel Aviv from London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £109 one way (£202 return). For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch holidays or Monarch hotels, please visit monarch.co.uk.

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