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Perched on a hill overlooking the eastern Mediterranean, Jaffa‘s long and rich history unfolds stories of various cultures and periods. Here are five intriguing anecdotes that illuminate the city’s past:

1. Jaffa and the Flood

Medieval travelers passing through Jaffa pondered on the origin of its name. A local tradition suggested connecting its name to Jafeth, the son of Noah. Some even proposed that the olive branch found by the dove at the end of the flood originated from Jaffa. The olive branch decoration on Jaffa’s catholic church pulpit resonates with this local folklore.

2. Jaffa and (Non) Kosher food

The Book of Acts documents Peter experiencing a vision in Jaffa, instructed not to limit himself to Kosher food (“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”, Acts 10:15). This was a transformative moment for early Christians, breaking free from kosher laws and contributing to the definitive split from Judaism. Since then Christian can enjoy shrimp lobster and pork with no guilt feelings 😊

3. Jaffa and Andromeda

Jaffa was under Greek influence in the Hellenistic period, and perhaps during that period the myth of Andromeda evolved. Andromeda was about to be sacrificed to the sea monster, the Meduza when Perseus rescued her. He used a polished shield to cause the monster to see her reflection and turn into rocks. These rocks are said to be seen at the entry into Jaffa’s port to this day.

4. “Go to Jaffa!”

Did you know that in past times, instead of the curse “Go to hell,” sailors used to say “Go to Jaffa!”? The port of Jaffa was considered dangerous to access from the sea due to jutting rocks at its entrance. To this day buoys mark the specific entry route into the harbor, which Greek Mythology associates with the Medusa.

5. Jaffa’s Prison That Became a Luxury Hotel

In the 19th century, the Ottomans constructed next to the clock tower a police station (“Kishle”) with a prison. It was later used by the Israeli police and in the 1960s Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann was held in it. In 2018 the complex was converted into a luxury hotel called “Setai Jaffa“. The former cell of the famous Nazi is now part of the resort’s lobby.

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