Founded, according to the Old Testament, by Japheth, in the wake of the famed flood that shot his father Noah to fame, Jaffa came to prominence as a port during the time of Solomon. The King of the Israelites lost the town in 1468 BC to the Egyptians, whose soldiers made their surprise entry hidden in clay pots.
The tides of Islam swept over the port in the 8th century, to be repelled briefly during the time of the Crusader conquests. From that time on, Jaffa remained in Muslim hands until the British General Allenby drove out the Turks in 1917. Jews had lived here since at least 1840 and by the end of the century, Jaffa had become a major gateway for boatloads of arriving immigrants. There were tensions between the new arrivals and the existing Arab community and, in 1921, these boiled over into full-blown anti-Jewish riots. The riots were to recur every few years until the decisive fighting of 1948, which saw the defeat and subsequent flight of the majority of Jaffa’s Arab population, leaving the ancient town in Jewish hands.
Since that time, Jaffa has been extensively renovated and developed as that perennial Israeli favourite – an artists’ quarter, with attendant galleries, craftshops and cafés.