Tour Locations | The Trail of Independence: Tracing the origins of modern Tel Aviv
Gutman's mosaic fountain
Hello! We start our tour at no. 3 Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv - in a public square right next to a fountain decorated with colorful mosaics. We’ll spend a few minutes here. If you’re standing in the sun... and Tel Aviv has about 300 days of sunshine a year, so you probably are... it might be best to find a shaded spot for the next few minutes.
Welcome to the Trail of Independence. This trail connects ten stops relating to the establishment of Tel Aviv and the Israeli Declaration of Independence. My name is Tomer Chelouche and I'll be taking you on a tour along Rothschild Boulevard unveiling the story of the first Jewish city in the world as well as the first (and only) Jewish state in the world.
I've been leading tours in Tel Aviv since 2008. I started out of a fascination with the story of my family - one of the founding families of this city. Unfortunately, my ancestors didn't leave me anything, so I guide tours instead of living off real estate. Regardless, I'm quite happy with this situation. I love to tell stories about Tel Aviv and I hope you'll enjoy hearing them today.
Our first stop along the trail of Independence is this impressive ensemble of colorful mosaics. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its establishment, the city of Tel Aviv commissioned this work of art from the artist Nahum Gutman. He grew up in Tel Aviv since its early days. In that sense, he matured along with the city. From infancy to adulthood, Gutman observed how Tel Aviv transformed from a small neighborhood, in which everybody knew each other, into the bustling metropolis that it is to this day. Little Tel Aviv became one of his most explored themes, in his paintings and in children books he wrote and illustrated.
Gutman’s mosaic fountain depicts a summarized history of Jaffa and Tel Aviv. We’ll expand on the connection between the two cities later on, but for now, suffice it to say that they were combined into one entity shortly after the establishment of the state of Israel.
Look at the three standing mosaics in the middle of the fountain.
On either side, Gutman shows us how this place is rooted in biblical times. On one side one can spot a scene in which a man is thrown from a boat into the sea and gets swallowed by a whale. It’s quite apparent, so if you don’t notice it, you might be standing on the other side of the fountain. In the meantime, you might have guessed who this unfortunate man is? That’s Jonah the prophet. On the other side, another biblical scene - timber from Lebanon is unpacked at the Jaffa port, to be taken to Jerusalem for the construction of the first temple.
Between the two biblical scenes, Gutman transports us immediately to the early days of Tel Aviv. This is an amazing combination of an ancient city, so old that it is mentioned already in scriptures, and a brand new city, that only in the 20th century actually came to be.
Focus on the mosaic in the middle to spot the main street of Little Tel Aviv - Hertzl Street. At the top of the street sits a very elaborate building, the first school in Tel Aviv, about which we will elaborate shortly.
Now look down to notice the mosaic on the edge of the fountain.
Gutman added twelve more scenes showcasing the development of Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The scene that’s right in front of your eyes is the Declaration of Independence. We’ll visit the place where it happened, of course.
Now, look for a narrow pathway between the office building on 3 Rothschild Boulevard and the smaller building on 5 Rothschild Boulevard.
Have you spotted it?
In a minute, we’ll walk towards that pathway. Notice the stretch of brass that was embedded into the pavement. That’s the physical manifestation of the Trail of Independence, inaugurated in 2018 on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary. We’ll follow this route through most of our tour, so it’s a good indication that you’re on the right track.
Before we continue, take a moment to walk along the edge of the fountain to appreciate all of the mosaics. See if you can spot a famous French general who conquered Jaffa on one of his military expeditions.
If you like, you can pause the track while you take it in, then press play when you're ready to hear my voice again.
[3 SECOND PAUSE]
Did you notice Napoleon Bonaparte in one of the mosaics?
Remember the pathway I mentioned earlier? When you’re ready, walk towards that pathway and go through it.
While you walk, I'll briefly explain how VoiceMap works. It uses your location to play audio automatically at the right time and place. This means you can put your phone away now. Don't worry if I'm silent for a while, when I'm not giving directions or telling stories. There's a map on your screen if you ever feel lost, and if you do get way off track without noticing, VoiceMap will let you know.
Continue through the pathway. I’ll stop you at our next destination before you get to the road.