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Jaffa Clock Tower - Ottoman Prime Construction





In the center of Jaffa stands a large and magnificent clock with a very interesting history, a relic of the Ottoman period or the beginning of progress. 

Moritz Scheinberg, a Jewish watchmaker, and jeweler from Jaffa built the Clock Tower in Jaffa. The tower, built in 1903, was one of six built in Israel to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II's reign. The tower, led by Yosef Beck Moyal, was built with donations from city residents, Arabs, and Jews and is one of a hundred clock towers built throughout the Ottoman Empire. The tower is made of sandstone, and its shape is similar to that of a European church. A copper cover atop the tower houses two clocks and a bell that rings every half hour. The tower inspired the name of the square where it is located, The Clock Square. 


On September 1, 1900, the first cornerstone was laid in the presence of the Kaimam, government officials, and religious representatives. Jaffa's clock tower was built in the center of the city's large market square, near the Mahmoudia Mosque, Kishla (Jaffa's police station and detention center), and Saraya House. The second floor was finished in 1901, and work on the third floor began the following year. Construction was completed in 1903, and the two clocks were installed in the tower. The Torah, the seal of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, was engraved on the second floor.

The background to the decision to build the clock tower in Jaffa is presented in the diary of the watchmaker Sheinberg, with a different date:

"An anniversary holiday was held in Sultan Abdul Hamid's courtyard in 1902. Turkish government officials, as well as Arab and Christian Jaffa dignitaries, were invited to a meeting at the Government House to discuss how to commemorate the Sultan's anniversary in Jaffa through some significant public enterprise. I was one of the readers as well. Some proposed digging and constructing a public well, as well as other similar ideas. I quickly realized that nothing came out of all of these proposals, an ostrich that the money they would collect for these purposes would be dashed by those collected into their pockets. So I proposed something that seemed more real to me and that could be easily realized: I proposed erecting a beautiful tower in the center of the city and erecting a large clock in this tower that would show the time from four sides - in two directions the European time, and in the other [the other] the Arab hour. My point of view was accepted. The arrangement of the clock was, of course, given to me, and I devoted myself to it with great zeal, installing the large municipal clock that can still be seen today in the square in front of the Government House in Jaffa".


The construction of the tower signaled a cultural shift in the city, as the only bells that rang previously were at the tops of the spires of churches and mosques, and the construction of the "civil" clock tower symbolized a cultural shift toward civil society. After the city walls were demolished in the nineteenth century, Jaffa Clock Square became a focal point, with markets, government buildings, and a commercial center surrounding it, as well as a "central station" for carriages and carts on present-day Beit Eshel Street, from which public transportation services throughout Eretz Israel departed. Nathaniel Markovich, who owned a watch shop on Iskander Awad Street, was the first watchmaker to handle the watch (later Boutros). During the Turks' expulsion of the Jews of Tel Aviv-Jaffa during World War I, Nathaniel Markovich was granted special permission by the Turkish governor to remain in the city to set and operate the clock. 

The Tel Aviv Municipality renovated the tower in 1965, adding new clocks, art bars, and other works of art by artist Arie Koren. After many years of neglect, during which he did not ring and his arrows did not move, the tower was renovated again in 2001 at the initiative of the Government Tourism Company and the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality by architects Eyal Ziv, Eitan Ido, and Reli Perto. During the restoration, the original clock mechanism and bell were discovered.

Three of the four marble slabs bearing Sultan Abdul Hamid II's seal were destroyed, and glass replicas were installed in their place. The Antiquities Authority renewed and restored the fourth, facing south, in 2016.

The Greek Orthodox Church sold the land on which the clock complex is located in Jaffa to Bona Trading in July 2017 for NIS 5.2 million.


Height from the ground to the end of the antenna: 27.8 meters; first floor: 6.9 meters; second floor: 4.36 meters

The length and width of the tower's base are both 3.8 meters.

The Sultan's seals are 100 cm long and 70 cm wide.

The bell measures 60 cm in diameter, 110 cm in height, and weighs 130 kg.

Diameter of the clock dial: 1.3 meters, large hand: 65 cm, small hand: 35 cm


Jaffa offers a wide range of interesting historical sites, including the famous clock tower. 

Book a private tour of Jaffa today with a certified guide and do not skip the splendor of the work of the 20th century.


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