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Tel Aviv White City

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Tel Aviv White City


Basic Information

Location Rothschild Boulevard
Country Israel
City Tel Aviv-Yafo

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment yes
Handicap accessibility yes
Geographical Coordinates 32.06545,34.77663


The White City refers to a collection of over 4,000 Bauhaus or International style buildings built in Tel Aviv from the 1930's by German Jewish architects who immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine after the rise of the Nazis. Tel Aviv has the largest number of buildings in this style of any city in the world. Preservation, documentation, and exhibitions have brought attention to Tel Aviv's collection of 1930's architecture.

In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed Tel Aviv's White City a World Cultural Heritage site, as "an outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century." The citation recognized the unique adaptation of modern international architectural trends to the cultural, climatic, and local traditions of the city. The Bauhaus Center in Tel Aviv organizes regular architectural tours of the city.


The concept for a new garden city, to be called Tel Aviv, was developed on the sand dunes outside Jaffa in 1909. British urban planner Patrick Geddes, who had previously worked on town-planning in New Delhi, was commissioned by Tel Aviv's first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, to draw up a master plan for the new city. In addition to Geddes, and Dizengoff, the city engineer Ya'acov Ben-Sira contributed significantly to the development and planning during his 1929 to 1951 tenure. Both the emigration of these Jewish architects and the closing of the Bauhaus school in Berlin were consequences of the rise to power of the Nazi party in Germany in 1933.

The residential and public buildings were designed by these architects, who took advantage of the absence of established architectural conventions to put the principles of modern architecture into practice. The Bauhaus principles, with their emphasis on functionality and inexpensive building materials, were perceived as ideal in Tel Aviv.

The architects fleeing Europe brought not only Bauhaus ideas but the architectural ideas of Le Corbusier were also mixed in. Furthermore, Erich Mendelsohn was not formally associated with the Bauhaus, though he had several projects in Israel in the 1930's as did Carl Rubin, an architect from Mendelsohn's office. In the 1930's in Tel Aviv, many architectural ideas were converging and Tel Aviv was the ideal place for them to be tested.

In 1984, in celebration of Tel Aviv's 75th year, an exhibition was held at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art entitled White City, International Style Architecture in Israel, Portrait of an Era. Some sources trace the origin of the term "White City" to this exhibition and its curator Michael Levin, some to the poet Nathan Alterman.

The 1984 exhibition traveled to New York, to the Jewish Museum. In 1994, a conference took place at the UNESCO headquarters, entitled World Conference on the International Style in Architecture. Credit was given to Israeli artist Dani Karavan who made a sculpture garden at the headquarters, and had earlier made a sculptural environment entitled Kikar Levana that was inspired by the White City. In 1996, Tel Aviv's White City was listed as a World Monuments Fund endangered site. In 2003, UNESCO named Tel Aviv a World Heritage Site for its treasure of modern architecture.


Bauhaus or International style buildings,

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Time period

20th century