• Kobi Tour Guide of Israel

What are Israel's Top Architectural Wonders?

Some of the greatest architectural sites and innovations in world history happened in Israel. Rogem Hiri is a 5000 year-old megalithic stone monument made up of concentric circles which predates Stonehenge. The arch was invented here by the Canaanites around Abraham's time, 3800 years ago. Ancient Israelite water systems were known throughout the Middle East (you may have walked through Hezekiah's tunnel in Jerusalem from 2700 years ago). 2000 years ago King Herod built what was the greatest building in the Roman world in its day - the Temple Mount - which included the largest arch, staircase, building and sacred space in the Roman world. It was said of the structure that "one who has not seen the Temple of Herod has not seen a beautiful building in his/her lifetime." And that doesn't even get into some of his other innovations such as the Caesarea port, the man-made mountain of Herodian and his incredible Northern Palace at Masada. The world's first churches, of course, appeared in Israel and the Dome of the Rock is the first monumental building in Islam (built in 691 CE/AD).

Yet what about today? Is there any amazing architecture to speak of in Israel?

Of course there is the famous Bauhaus/International Style Architecture which was all the rage in Europe in the 20's and 30's but was mostly blown to smithereens in WWII, leaving Israel as the best place to see it, hence Tel Aviv becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site (even if I liked their previous style buildings - the eclectic style of the 1910's and 1920's) much better). But besides that?

Well, in honor of the peace agreement about to be signed tomorrow between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Architectural Digest Magazine published an article highlighting the 5 best pieces of architecture in the UAE and the 5 best in Israel. For Israel, well, I am proud to say that I immediately thought of 4 of the 5 things on the list as well (I would have picked the Supreme Court over the Effendi Hotel in my Top 5 but that place is awesome as well).


You can see their list here: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/uae-israel-agree-terms-tourism


And as a tour guide of Israel, here are some sites which weren't listed, but which I also love:


These 3 Landmark Hotels:

The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem

The King David Hotel in Jerusalem

The Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpeh Ramon

These 6 Modern Holy Sites:

The Bahai Gardens/Shrine of the Bab in Haifa

The Byzantine-era synagogue at Um el-Qanatir which was digitally reconstructed from ruins

The Latrun Monastery

The Abuhav Synagogue in Tzfat which used the song "Who Knows One" in architecture

The Or Torah Tunisian Synagogue in Akko which is covered in mosaics from head to toe

The YMCA in Jerusalem (the nicest in the world)


These 4 for how the architect incorporated protected historical landmarks within the design:

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem

The Orient Hotel in Jerusalem

The Mamilla Outdoor Shopping Mall in Jerusalem

The Sarona Complex in Tel Aviv




These 4 for how the architect used the building to tell the historical story:

The Yad Vashem Museum

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

The Church of All Nations

The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth



And a few others:

The Performing Arts Center in Ashdod

The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem

Conrad Schick's Tabor House in Jerusalem


Two I wouldn't mind coming down:

The Crazy House on Yarkon Street (a sad Israeli attempt at Gaudi)

The Shalom Tower in Tel Aviv (once the tallest in the Middle East, but built over the site of Tel Aviv's most important modern historical building, The Herzliya Gymansia, now the symbol of the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites)


And what I'm most looking forward to seeing when it is done:

The KPF Spiraling Scroll Tower in Tel Aviv (set to be the tallest tower in Israel)

Here are some other people's thoughts on the matter:

https://www.dezeen.com/tag/israel/

https://www.israel21c.org/the-top-10-must-see-buildings-of-israel/

https://theculturetrip.com/middle-east/israel/articles/11-israeli-landmarks-designed-by-some-of-the-worlds-top-architects/

https://www.archdaily.com/country/israel

https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/IsraelExperience/Pages/Architectural-gems-22-Nov-2012.aspx


And to learn more about the history of modern architecture in Israel, click here:

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/architecture-in-israel/

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