It is no secret that Jaffa has a very close historical connection with art. The creative scene of the Artists Quarter goes back to the 50s and 60s, when artists moved in for the affordable spaces and ‘edgy’ vibe. Today, many established artists and renowned collectors base both their studios and homes in Jaffa. All across Jaffa you will find galleries, museums and a lot of 'behind the walls' private events and happenings, so always keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the incredible creativity Jaffa has to offer. 

I am taking a closer look at some of the 'Faces of Jaffa' and the personal stories of the people who choose Jaffa to be their home. Join me and discover these fascinating, successful and talented individuals who make Jaffa the special place that it is.

                                                       FACES OF JAFFA:  Anya Fleet

                                                     FACES OF JAFFA:  Anya Fleet

Anya is a Jaffa-based bridal and evening wear designer. Her dresses have been the center of attention at many high-profile weddings around the globe, with clients praising her unique down-to-earth and feminine design aesthetic. Until two years ago, when Anya was living in central Tel Aviv with her husband, they decided to move to Jaffa in search of a bigger studio for her to work in. They just couldn't believe their luck when they first entered this house; needless to say it was love at first sight. 

Tell us about your daily routine in Jaffa and why you chose to live here. 

We moved to Jaffa because we realized it's the place that reflects our personalities more than any other place. We feel that living here is ideal for us because we are still very central - we are only 15 minutes away from central Tel Aviv, but we have the peace, quiet and the sense of community that is priceless to us as a family. 

My daily routine starts with dropping Sinai, my 2-year-old son, at kindergarten and continues with coffee on the beach; I go for a jog to the Port and sit and gather my thoughts before I get back to the studio to work on my dresses and meet my clients. I have much more space here in Jaffa, more freedom and less stress. I don't need to look for parking and I have the best views here. Creatively this place has helped me achieve better results as I am creating in peace and without the "big city" stress. 

Where are your favorite places to hang out in Jaffa? 

I love sitting on the pier and having coffee at the marina, and I love the flea market, the beach and the Peres Center for Peace. I love Kalamata and Cassis for dinner. It's incredible that we don't need to walk very far to get the best food in the world.

What would you say to people who are thinking about living in Jaffa? 

I get along with everyone here; all of my neighbors know me. I feel like Jaffa is part of Tel Aviv, I don't feel like it's two separate towns.

Yossi is a 40-year-old lawyer from London. He moved to Israel about four years ago and now enjoys the outdoor lifestyle Jaffa has to offer. He spends his spare time playing golf, fishing, diving, running and cooking on top of his roof. "I had always wanted to live here, but always found reasons not to come. One day I stopped listening to those reasons and followed my heart by moving to Israel. I made the decision one morning, and was here the same day!"

Tell us a little about the house you live in.

This apartment was once the studio of the famous sculptor Matanya Abramson. Two years ago it was remodeled by renowned Israeli architect Pitsou Kedem. This whole area of Jaffa was and still is part of an artist community, so everyone who lives here has been here for many years. My apartment still has that ancient and bohemian feel about it, but also feels modern - and that is why I like it here so much.

How long have you lived in Jaffa, and where did you live before?

I have been in Jaffa for just over a year. Before that I lived in Neve Tsedek, and before that Herzliya Pituach. But Jaffa is the only place I felt I could call home.

What made you move and stay in Jaffa? 

I never originally intended to move to Jaffa. I probably wouldn’t even have considered it as a place to live, but I wanted to move to a special apartment with the “wow” factor, and I found this one. As soon as I got here, I felt the atmosphere and fell in love with the place. Always lively, but not noisy, good fun people, perhaps a little different from the Tel Aviv vibe, more relaxed. In the Old City here, there is a real community feel. Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.

I am only five minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv, but it feels like a world away when you are relaxing here with the amazing views, and still only a few minutes from all the restaurants and bars that you could need. There's always something going on here. I have no plans to leave. This is the only place in Israel I would consider living.  

What are your favorite places in Jaffa? 

Galleries, restaurants or anything else that comes to mind. Kalamata is my favorite restaurant in Jaffa. If I’m honest, I don’t really do too much of the cultural stuff other than just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere in the small streets, which are lined with galleries and jewelery shops, and attending the numerous free concerts which we have here. The architecture alone here is something quite beautiful.

Mr. Tiroche was born in 1966 in Israel, to a family of art dealers. His late father Jean Tiroche was a recognized gallery owner and dealer in New York, Tel Aviv and Paris. Tiroche's hands-on involvement in the art world began while working as an intern at Parisian auction house Loudmer in 1986. In 1992, he co-founded Tiroche Auction House in Israel and has since been closely involved with the family's international art trading activity. In 2008, Mr. Tiroche founded START, Israel's innovative artist incubator project that relocated to Jaffa's Flea Market and opens in early September.

His house has recently been transformed into a residency for young international artists and has much more history and character than I imagined; Serge tells me all about it while taking me on a grand tour through time. The house was purchased by his father Jean in 1973 and is where Serge was raised all his life. Beforehand, the house functioned as an Army Officer's club during the British Mandate; during the Ottoman period, it was an observation point for the ships coming in to Jaffa harbor.

Once the Tiroche family moved in, the house turned into a kind of bohemian gathering space for local artists, musicians and philosophers who were invited to witness the burgeoning new cultural scene in Tel Aviv-Jaffa - and it hasn't changed much ever since.

How long have you lived in Jaffa, and what made you stay here? 

I have lived in Jaffa all my life apart from when I lived outside of Israel. I was born in Jaffa and moved to this house when I was around 7 years old. Later in life, I lived here with my wife and raised children here, so this house is a huge part of my life. 

What do you think is the main difference between living in Jaffa and living in Tel Aviv, or the rest of Israel? 

The difference is big. Jaffa for me is home, I was born and raised here. There is a certain magic here in Jaffa that could never be compared to Tel Aviv. Sometimes when I walk around here, I feel like I am in Tuscany or in the south of France. There is something very European about it, but on the other hand it's also very Mediterranean.

What are your favorite places in Jaffa?

The area of the Flea Market is my favorite, and that is also the reason why I moved my gallery there (it's due to open on the 9th of September). I see it as a very authentic place and as one of the few areas in Israel that really feel special and non-commercialized. I love Old Jaffa and the Namal ("port" in Hebrew) is a place where I enjoy to stroll around. 

Do you have a Jaffa secret? Is there anything we should know about this area that we don't already know. 

It's top secret! This is for locals only! My favorite place for a quick and near lunch is Dani & Salim, the best barbecued meat in Jaffa.

Have you seen any change in Jaffa in the last few years?

Yes, sure. In recent years there have been many changes and most of them for the better; for example, the garden and amphitheater that is named after my father was restored and is now one of the most picturesque places in Jaffa. Many of the modern and new hotels and restaurants that are opening in and around here are bringing a new feel and new crowd to Jaffa. I just hope the new developments will combine new and old, so Jaffa's authentic feel won't be lost.