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Part of the sprawling municipality of Tel Aviv, the ancient port city of Jaffa is a mix of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It's an ideal place for strolling down cobblestone streets and for dining at one of the no-frills fish restaurants that line the quay. Don't miss the Old City, where art galleries and shops occupy the centuries-old buildings along the narrow roads. At the Jaffa Flea Market, you can be part of the trading and bargaining for treasures—real and perceived—that are a hallmark of the Middle East.

The streets around Clock Tower Square bustle on weekday afternoons, when school children stop by the open-air eateries for flaky pastries, and weekend evenings, when the bars empty out and their patrons go in search of a late-night bite. An oceanfront promenade connects Tel Aviv with Jaffa. The sprawling park that runs parallel to the promenade was once a landfill, but is now one of the city's greenest areas. Kids love the playgrounds and vast stretches of grass.

South of Jaffa are two worthwhile excursions. Design Museum Holon, in the suburb of that name, is an exciting contemporary art museum. Even farther south, in Rehovot, is the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Some historians claim that Jaffa was named after its founder, Japhet, son of Noah; others think its name is from the Hebrew yafeh (beautiful). What’s certain is its status as one of the world's oldest ports—perhaps the oldest. The Bible says the cedars used in the construction of the Holy Temple passed through Jaffa on their way to Jerusalem; the prophet Jonah set off from Jaffa before being swallowed by the whale; and St. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead here. Napoléon was but one of a succession of invaders who brought the city walls down; these walls were rebuilt for the last time in the early 19th century by the Turks and torn down yet again as recently as 1879.

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