Located on the west coast of Israel, Tel Aviv (or Tel-Aviv) seems to deserve some superlatives in its description, but they elude me. Possibly the richest city? Or with the most offices? Or is that shopping malls? Anyway, Tel Aviv is part of a large metropolitan area dubbed "Gush Dan". Tel Aviv hosts the world's largest central bus station, hence the filthiest.

Tel Aviv is also called the city that never stops. Night life is active, on any given night you will find people strolling up and down the streets of Tel Aviv, dressed in quite provocative clothes. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv has the sea shore at its feet, which makes summers hot and sticky! Parking in Tel Aviv is, as in any big city, a great headache... fortunately you can actually walk almost anywhere!

The name translates as "spring hill", which just goes to show what PR can do for you. Tel Aviv is flat (well, it's on the coast!), and although almost bearable in spring, the city really comes into its own in summer, when it gets unbelieavbly hot and humid. Redeeming features include being the focus of most business/cultural activity in Israel, and the beach.

The name Tel Aviv actually has a rather complex origin, and when it was given to the so-called "First Hebrew City", it relied on elements from two Jewish traditions:

1. About 2500 years ago there used to be several Jewish yeshivah-cities in Babylon (nowadays in Iraqi territory). These cities were built by exiled Jews who lived in Babylon since the destruction of the first temple, and the first elimination of the kingdom of Judea and the Jewish monarchy (586 BCE). One of these cities (and by no means the largest or most important) was named Tel Aviv (Til Ubub as the name survived in Arabic). The city was abandoned at the time of the muslim occupation of Babylon (the 7th century CE), and sank into relative oblivion, but numerous mentions of it in Jewish scriptures (the Babylonian Talmud in particular, but also in the book of Ezekiel, 3:15), have kept the memory of the city in the mind of Jews.

2. The great synagogue of Prague (the Altneueschule - the Old New School) is one of the largest, most ancient and most famous in the world. It was also (or at least its name was) a source of influence on one of Theodore Herzl's most influential books: "Altneuland" (Old New Land). Herzl, who was the founder of political Zionism, described in this novel (and in another non-fiction book called "The State of the Jews") his vision of the Jewish state, which he considered a necessity and an inevitability. When Nachum Sokolow (another one of the first leaders of Zionism) wanted to translate "Altneuland" to Hebrew (Herzl never learned Hebrew and wrote in his first language - German), he decided to use the name 'Tel Aviv'.
Here I would like to divert in order to make a slight correction to the writeup of haggai, for though the word 'Tel' is quite often interchanged with 'Giv'a' (hill) in everyday speech, the actual meaning of it is slightly different, as the 'New Dictionary of the Hebrew Language' by A. Even-Shoshan (1982 edition) says:
Tel - An artificial hill, a place that has been elevated from its surroundings, usually by the process of piling of wrecks of older settlements.
"The name Tel Aviv," wrote Sokolow to Herzl upon choosing the name for the Hebrew translation, "not only is a combination that appears in the scriptures, but also has a symbolic meaning, not unlike the name of the book in the original: A ruined place that is once again blessed with spring." And indeed the first Hebrew translation of 'Altneuland' carried the name 'Tel Aviv'.

When it was time to name the rapidly evolving and growing city (that until the First World War, in which the majority of its population was deported by the Turks, who suspected them in spying and aiding the British army, was called Ahuzat-Bait - House Manor), the people decided to name it after the book, seeing themselves as those very people bringing spring to a ruined place.

In a rather naff nod to New York's nickname of the Big Apple, Tel Aviv's city fathers like to refer to it as the Big Orange. In fact, Jaffa is where the oranges came from, and Tel Aviv itself evolved from northern Jaffa in 1909.

The 'first Hebrew city' was meticulously planned (by Scottish architect Sir Patrick Geddes), and remnants of his dream can still be seen in the tree-lined boulevards. German immigrants (yekkes) to what was then Palestine brought with them Bauhaus architecture, and again some buildings in this style can still be seen.

Visitors should be aware that whatever is left of the city's beginnings is crumbling away. Some Bauhaus blocks are virtually derelict. The famous Dizengoff Street (named after the city's first mayor) is a shadow of its former self. Like everywhere else, restoring old buildings and streets costs real money, and city leaders would be much more interested in another mirror-glass office block or shopping mall.

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