Tour Locations | The White City

  • LOCATION 1 | The White City

    Dizengoff Square

    Dizengoff Square on Tel Aviv audio tour The White City

    You should be standing next to the fountain in the center of Dizengoff Square. We'll spend a few moments here, so if it's a hot sunny day, find a shaded spot under one of the trees.

    An important clarification is in order - due to the circular shape of the place, you might be wondering why is this place called Dizengoff Square. Well, that's because the Hebrew word for a piazza, a public square, is the same as the Hebrew word for a roundabout, a circle. The second meaning just got lost in translation. It would have been perfect to call the place Dizengoff Circus, but for unknown reasons, the name that stuck is Dizengoff Square.

    My name is Tomer Chelouche and I'll be taking you on a tour in the center of Tel Aviv combining history, culture and architecture.

    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.

    Dizengoff Square is a prime example of the White City - the nickname given to over 4,000 buildings in Tel Aviv that were built in the 1930s in the International Style, sometimes referred to as Bauhaus. Surrounded by buildings that were all designed in the International Style, it's a celebration of elegance, simplicity and functionality, all characteristic of the White City. They were designed by architect Genia Averbuch, one of the only women to work in the field of architecture at the time. On our tour today, we'll see some more interesting examples of the White City buildings.

    Now, let's focus on Dizengoff Square.

    It is actually named after Zina Dizengoff, the wife of the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff. The major street dissecting the square is named after him. It is symbolic that the man got a straight line, whilst the woman received a circle.

    It was opened to the public in 1938 and received immediate popularity. Letters kept in the city archive show how Tel Avivians complained that most of the time there aren't enough vacant benches in Dizengoff Square. After the establishment of the state of Israel, in the 1950s it was considered the main locus of activity in the Israeli cultural arena, being surrounded by the most important theatres and cinemas.

    In the 1970s, the square started to lose its prestige, seeing a decline in pedestrians, diminished cultural activity and widespread deterioration in the center of Tel Aviv. In an effort to reinvent the place, the city decided to elevate the square above street level. A few years later, the famous sculpture "Fire and Water" by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam was placed in the fountain in the middle of the square. The square in its elevated form was considered by many to be a spectacular failure, being even less attractive to residents and city visitors.

    After years of deliberations, it was finally decided to return the square to its former glory, while keeping the water-spraying sculpture that has since become a sort of Tel Avivian icon.

    Now - let's see where we are headed. First, can you spot the Cinema Hotel? It's the curved 5 storey building with a big sign on top.

    [5 SECOND PAUSE]

    Spotted it? Good.

    Now turn your back to the Cinema Hotel and you'll see the start of Pinsker Street. It's a one-way road exiting Dizengoff Square.

    Use the crosswalk to get to the start of Pinsker Street.

    Let's start walking.

    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 towards Pinsker Street.

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