Sarona is a newly renovated complex in the heart
of Tel Aviv. Originally a German Templar Colony built in 1871, the site sits at the heart
of what is a new central business district of the city, with offices and apartments
surrounding the beautifully landscaped complex. Thirty-three original Templar buildings,
dating back more than 140 years, have been painstakingly restored and today Sarona
houses boutique stores, artist galleries, quaint cafes, and some of the city’s hottest
restaurants and bars. Opened in early 2014, Sarona has quickly gained a
reputation as one of Tel Aviv’s liveliest spots
Sarona was established over 140 years ago by German
Templars - Christians who headed to the Holy Land and created a “colony” similar to those
found in Haifa, Jerusalem, and elsewhere across Israel. The Templar Colony became a
leisure and commerce destination. The Templars never gave up their German citizenship
and culture. Although only a few of the younger Templars were active Nazis in the 1930’s,
the British, in 1941, deported the entire group to an Australian detention camp.
With the Templars gone, the British occupied the colony,
fortifying it, and creating there a military base which was attacked numerous times by
the Jewish underground groups in the pre-State era. The British handed the Sarona
compound to the Jewish leaders in December 1947.
Following the Establishment of the State of Israel, in May
1948, the complex housed some of the original government ministries until December 1949.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, renamed the Sarona, the “Kirya”
(The Compound), and from then, until its renovation and reopening, it housed the
headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who still occupy the northern part
of the Kirya. The Kirya is visible across the street from Sarona and is the
equivalent of our Pentagon.
The Tel Aviv Municipality approved the restoration of
Sarona in 2006, Almost all of the buildings were successfully restored and
the unique and charming character features which they embody were brought back to their
former glory. The newly renovated complex opened in early 2014
Sarona has quickly become one of the hottest
destinations in Tel Aviv, with the restored buildings. It houses an amazing array of
boutique stores, eating and drinking destinations, art galleries, children’s playgrounds,
a visitor center documenting the history and restoration of Sarona, the world-class
indoor Sarona Market and beautifully landscaped gardens.