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Jaffa Flea Market

  • Like many other major cities across Europe and North America, Jaffa’s Shuk HaPishpushim, or Flea Market, is an outdoor secondhand and antique shopping extravaganza. Founded in the early part of the 20th century, the Jaffa Flea Market has, in recent years, become a trendy spot for fashionistas, artisans and lovers of all things old or handmade. Today’s sprawling streets and central market area are an eclectic mix of indoor restaurants, stop by eateries, outdoor junk vendors, and shops with refurbished furniture, household items from earlier periods, and second hand clothes. Today a local nonprofit also holds cultural festivals where local artisans and students collaborate on public art works, the profits of which benefit youth at-risk in nearby Jaffa.

    With the Ottoman Empire’s rule over parts of the Middle East in the early 1900s, Jaffa was renovated and used as its commercial and political center. A central export through the Jaffa port was oranges from the nearby groves, what came to be known today as 'Jaffa Oranges’. And through the port, Jaffa rose to power as a trade station for local and foreign merchants. A Turkish market was set up near the port and below the close-by mosque and Greek Orthodox church to offer food, mementos and other wares to traveling pilgrims and tradesmen.

    During the First World War, the Ottoman expelled the Jews from Tel Aviv and Jaffa for fear of their aiding the British, and with the victory of the British, the Jews were allowed to return to live in the two cities. With many Arabs remaining in Jaffa, the downtown area was rife with violent eruptions among the two populations during the 1920s and 30s. Jaffa’s port proved pivotal during Israel’s War of Independence as the Hagana forces took over and local Arab residents fled the city for fear of attacks by the founding forces of the Israeli State.

    But as the State began to blossom in its early years, Tel Aviv and Jaffa were joined by a central municipality who began to renovate and repair homes and lives for Jewish and Arab residents alike. The Old City of Jaffa and its ancient Clock Tower are among the city’s more picturesque tourist attractions. And the flea market nearby is no site for sore eyes. With colorful wares, foods and vendors, the Shuk HaPishpushim invites hours of ambling through its covered walkways, hidden alleyways, and shops old and new.