The White City

History bestowed upon Tel Aviv unique architectural gems, first and foremost, the world’s largest concentration of buildings in the International style.

It all started in the mid-1920s, when the cheeky “teenaged” city began to signal that it was already grown up and starting to be a metropolis. What was missing, thought city officials, was a unified architectural style – so they decided to build a new quarter using Bauhaus design principles. The decision did not come out of the blue: Starting in the early 1930s, Tel Aviv became home to numerous graduates of Europe’s top architectural schools, who drew their inspiration from the Modernist movement in architecture, primarily from the Bauhaus school of art and architecture in Berlin.

Characteristics of the International style include asymmetric composition, minimalism and the elimination of decorative elements that do not serve a useful purpose. Interior design is simple and functional, flat roofs allow for gardens and social gatherings, and even serve as a place to sleep in the stifling heat of summer nights.

More than anything, however, it is the ubiquitous balconies that set Tel Aviv apart from most other cities.

These porches symbolize the communal openness and the strong link between the public and the private in the developing society.

To put it simply, the balconies are a great place to sit and catch a cool breeze, while enjoying a juicy watermelon and observing the neighbors. The buildings, known as the White City because of the predominance of white and pastel exteriors, are locatedmostly along Rothschild Boulevard, around Dizengoff Circle and on Bialik Street.

In 2003, Tel Aviv was named a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

This salute by the international body added the White City to the prestigious list of 830 sites throughout the world deemed to be of outstanding value to universal human culture, such as the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids.

Welcome to this exclusive club, White City, as the first modern Hebrew- speaking city gets readyto celebrate its 100th birthday.