Sarona – Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel - Atlas Obscura


Tel Aviv's popular neighborhood went though endless waves of transformation.  


Founded in the late 19th century as a German Templar farming colony. Its residents built many underground tunnels, some of which are still accessible today, to transport and store their crops. They lived in peace with the local settlers of the time until the first World War, when conflicts started bubbling up between the people of Sarona and the rest of the local population.

In 1918 the colony became home to a British air force base, in 1933 it was home to a branch of the Nazi party, during WWII it became a British detention camp and many of its inhabitants were exiled to Australia. In the late 1940s, the camp was repeatedly attacked by the Palmach (a militant Jewish group who were trying to reclaim the land from the British), culminating in an attack in the form of a postal service car bomb that killed five people.

After Israel was founded, Sarona’s buildings found many different uses either for the nearby Israeli military base, which would later on house Israel’s Ministry of Defense and then a maternity hospital

The nearby city of Tel Aviv kept growing and growing until it eventually encapsulated Sarona whole, and it was mostly used to house soldiers who were serving in the nearby military base. Over the decades the buildings of Sarona have become old, worn out and grey. The neighborhood was largely ignored by most of the city’s residents as it held no particular interest until a decision was made to restore the old buildings, and overhaul Sarona into a beautiful area of shops, parks, restaurants and greenery in the heart of the city.

Despite its grim history, Sarona keeps functioning as a favorite site for city locals wanting to enjoy the fresh air. As if to push the symbolism of how its history and present clash even further, Israel’s tallest skyscraper opened in Sarona in 2017 alongside the historic farming colony houses.

Know Before You Go

Easily accessible as it is within walking distance of the Shalom train station, and the many bus lines who pass by the Azrieli mall.

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