The inspiring pedestrian mall that passes through the Migdal neighborhood allows us to behold the place where the modern city of Ashkelon was born. Here, where the past and the present merge we can get a glimpse of the city’s roots. This is not a prestigious, flashy tourist attraction, but rather an authentic place - true to its origins, and true to its past.
Migdal’s lively, colorful pedestrian mall passes old court-yarded houses, narrow alleys and has a most unique, rather old-worldly, atmosphere - in a world that is always rushing forward. So, when you visit Ashkelon, don’t miss taking a stroll around the Migdal neighborhood, bursting with atmosphere, and savor the sights that look as if they are from a different era, along with unexpected shops - bridal salons, shops full of religious articles and special gift shops
A Culinary Tour in Migdal
Midgal is synonymous with authentic restaurants. Even tourists with the most refined palates will delight in the selection of eateries in the area. What’s waiting for you here? “Hanitzachon” Romanian restaurant was founded half a century ago and is a pilgrimage site for people from all over the country. “Cafe Roger” - the legendary Café, “the Bukharan Eatery”, a delightful Bukharan restaurant located near the market that offers homemade stews and stuffed foods and has earned itself a far-flung reputation, “Istanbul”, a meat restaurant with an authentic atmosphere, “El Afiyah”, a bakery which has long been an institution in town, compulsory for every visit, and there are also many delicious falafel stands and excellent fast food.
* The beginnings of the Migdal neighborhood - Majdal town was known for its extensive weaving industry.
An Urban Tour
Herzl Street, Migdal’s main street, spans the entire length of the neighborhood, from HaAtzma'ut Square, known as “Khan Square”, in the north all the way to Ben Gurion Blvd. in the south. Fascinating historical sites from the Ottoman period, from the British Mandate period and from the early days of the Hebrew city line the entire length of the street.
Khan Museum and HaAtzma’ut Square
The building that was built in the 13th century first served as a mosque and is now a museum. On the other side of the square stands a building with a decorative entrance that served as a post office during the British Mandate period. The museum will soon undergo a massive renovation and will be made into a visitor center.
The Aristocrats Building
Built a century ago, served as a clinic and Mother and Child Center after the establishment of the State of Israel, under the direction of two doctors, the Lebar brothers.
There has been an active market at this site since the Ottoman period. Today you will find a lively and colorful market here.
Sheikh Dehelam House
An Ottoman period building located in Hakerem St. which once was the house of the Sheikh of Mijdal in the 19th century. After the establishment of the state if was used as the office of the first Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Dov Wollner, and the seat of the Religious Council.
The School of Arts
Established during the time of the British Mandate as a high school for boys.
The Water Tower
Built at the end of the 1930s in order to supply the residents of Midgal with water.
The Ritual Bath (Mikve)
Tomb of an ancient sheikh that became a mosque (“the Small Mosque”) during the Ottoman period. From 1948-1965 it was used as a mikve (ritual purity bath) house by the city’s Religious Council.
On the south-eastern corner stands a building that is about a hundred years old, it is a fine example of urban-Arabic architecture. During the time of the British Mandate it served as a pharmacy and the residence of the first military governor after the establishment of the State.
The First City Hall
Built during the British Mandate period and in 1948 served the military government. Later it housed the City Council.
Ashkelon Market is situated right in the heart of the Midgal neighborhood, and it is without a doubt the most beautiful covered market in Israel. On market days hundreds of stalls fill up with fruits and vegetables and other fresh delicacies which ensure a true feast for all the senses. On Thursdays, even more stalls open, filling the market up with homewares, shoes, clothing, toys, jewelry, spices and basically anything you could imagine – befitting of a longtime market that has been running successfully for many years.
How to get there: from Eli Cohen St., Remez St. and Hakerem St.
The Covered Market
The market, which is also known as the “Eastern Market” or “Midgal Market”, is open every week day and offers delicacies of all kinds, exotic spices, boutique cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, wines and other beverages, clothes and almost anything else you can think of that will give you a proper market experience.
How to get here: at the entrance to the Migdal neighborhood, between Remez and Tzhal Streets.
The “Afridar” Center Complex
In 1955 the Migdal and Afridar neighborhoods combined to become the modern city of Ashkelon. Afridar Center is home to lively restaurants and coffee shops - a pleasant recreation complex for couples, families with children and anyone who is looking for a relaxing atmosphere.
An Urban Tour
Stop for a quick break at Afridar Center and visit one of the local cafes, discover the Clock Tower with its red tile roof. From here you can walk to Beit HaAm (the cultural center), where a charming and intriguing archaeological park is hidden, which houses magnificent coffins (sarcophagi) (see below for further details). Return to the Clock Tower and to the large Tsfania Square with its well-manicured lawns. On the large lawn, just west of the Square, you will see an art exhibition in the form of a collection of sundials - work of the artist, Yigal Tumarkin.
Two options to end the tour
head toward the west in the direction of the immaculate beach, or take a short walk to Haimson Square, where you will find an environmental sculpture in the form of a ship made from utility poles.
* The Afridar neighborhood was established at the initiative of South African Jews, who fell in love with the old city and the sand dunes and orchards that surrounded it. The name comes from the initials of the two words “Africa” and “Amidar” (the housing company).