HaTachana: Tel Aviv’s Best Kept Secret?

26 Jul

HaTachana

The old train station building for the Jaffa to Jerusalem railway.

HaTachana means train station in Hebrew. And since last year it also means trendy shopping center between the Mediterranean and Neve Tzedek. In fact, that is the address that is given for the HaTachana shopping complex on their website. Of course, I had to use Google Translate to figure that out. A search on Google Maps for HaTachana yields zilch. There’s no chance it would appear on my old (circa 1994) map of Tel Aviv. But I’d heard about HaTachana from friends who’ve been here for a while. And it definitely seemed like a good place to explore.

Armed with my outdated map, a print-out of the Hebrew-labeled map from the HaTachana website and a print-out of the Google map, I headed there with a friend of mine. The conundrum was that the HaTachana website map indicated a turn where the Google map showed no road. So I missed the turn (an unmarked road) and found myself driving into Jaffa. Yikes! No worries, though, I got turned around easily and we made our way to the large (thank goodness) parking lot.

The HaTachana complex is comprised of some 22 buildings dating to different time periods. The complex is named after the old train station building (where trains used to run from Jaffa to Jerusalem) which now houses the Tourist Info office and a great souvenir shop. Other buildings in the complex are a villa built in 1902 once owned by Templar Hugo Wieland, the Wieland brick and tile factory, the freight terminal and a typical Arab house older than the Wieland villa.

Despite the glaring heat from the sun, we had great fun exploring the complex, popping into one shop after another, finding shade or air-conditioned relief when we could. We both purchased a few souvenirs and S. got a great deal on what must be the best-designed tote bag in the world. We had a delicious lunch at a charming restaurant. We shall both add HaTachana to our list of favorite places in Tel Aviv and will do our best to spread the word. But then again…perhaps we should keep the secret to ourselves?

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