The Carmel Market is among the most central and popular of Tel Aviv’s market places - it’s also an integral part of the city’s early urban development. Vendors yell for attention to their colorful fresh produce while trendsetters taste the latest culinary trend at a small unmarked restaurant. Tourists shop for trinkets while locals stop for a quick espresso next door.
In the early 1920s the nearby neighborhood called Kerem HaTeimanim, literally 'the vineyard of the Yemenites’, started its own marketplace which was called “HaKerem”, the vineyard. With the help of Zionist leader, Arthur Rupin, a group of Russian immigrants began to turn the small neighborhood into a bustling commercial center. Noticing its potential and impact, the Tel Aviv municipality, with Meir Dizengoff at its helm, encouraged its growth and permanence further by changing its name officially to Shuk HaCarmel, or the Carmel Market, renaming the road HaCarmel Street and allowing for permanent buildings and renovations within the alloted space.
With its growing success, local Arab farmers opened a competing market nearby which became a source of tension among the local populations in downtown Tel Aviv Yaffo for decades, with incidents of violence between Arabs and Jews continuing well into the 1930s and even during Israel’s War of Independence. Arab snipers shot at Jews shopping in the Carmel Shuk from the nearby Hassan Bey Mosque, one of the most well-known Arab mosques in the area, and still standing between the oceanfront and the marketplace.
During Israel’s austerity period of the 1950s, the Carmel Shuk rose to great prominence as the best and most direct source of local, fresh produce. Efforts by the municipality to move the market to a more central location in the city failed in the 1960s and 1970s with locals preferring the market’s intimate and authentic neighborhood charm. And as terrorist attacks tore through the heart of public Israeli life in the 1990s and early 2000s, the open market place suffered a downturn in visitors. But in recent years, as the interest in local produce, outdoor experiential shopping, and blue-and-white purchases increased, as did the number of visitors and vendors to the Shuk. Thanks to a recent renovation, the Carmel Shuk of today is home to a range culinary treats that, together with covered walkways and shaded coffee stalls, welcomes leading chefs from Israel and abroad to its abundant sights, sounds and flavors.
For a video of the Carmel Shuk and photos click here.