Jaffa (Hebrew: Yafo) is one of the oldest cities in the world. Archaeological evidence shows it was already an inhabited city some 7,500 years BC. Its small natural harbor has been in use since the Bronze Age.
Today Jaffa is a magnet for tourists. Modern visitors easily recognize the special atmosphere of Old Jaffa's winding alleyways. Jaffa Hill rises to a height of 40 meters (130 feet) and offers a commanding view of the coastline. A walk through the streets of Jaffa reveals historical and mythological sites related to different religions and periods: monasteries, churches and mosques co-exist peacefully along the city's streets and the flea market is always full of good cheer.
The town was mentioned in Egyptian sources (as early as 1440 BC) and the Amarna Letters as Yapu. The Hellenist tradition links the name to "Iopeia", mother of Andromeda. An outcropping of rocks near the harbor is reputed to have been the place where Andromeda was rescued by Perseus.
Jaffa is mentioned four times in the Bible: as one of the cities given to the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Book of Joshua 19:46), as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16), as the place whence the prophet Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Book of Jonah 1:3) and as port-of-entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Book of Ezra 3:7).
Jewish sovereignty over Jaffa was restored for a brief period when it was taken over by the Maccabean rebels. Prior to the Jewish Revolt (66-73 AD) against Rome, Jewish sea pirates settled in Jaffa. During the Roman repression of the revolt, Vespasian razed the city and massacred its inhabitants. The Roman Jewish historian Josephus describes the escape of many Jews to the sea with their boats, where bad weather sank the boats. About 4,200 bodies were then washed ashore.
During the Middle Ages Jaffa was the main port of arrival of both Jewish and Christian pilgrims. At times they were made to pay a special toll tax to the Moslem guards before they were allowed to tread the soil of the Holy Land.
At the beginning of the Zionist era most Jewish pioneers entered the country by way of Jaffa, which was the country's main port for many years until the larger and better equipped Haifa Port was constructed during the British Mandate.
In 1909 a group of Jaffa's Jewish citizens laid the cornerstone of the first house of a new garden suburb – Tel Aviv – only a stone's throw from Old Jaffa. Tel Aviv, however, rapidly outstripped Jaffa as a cultural and commercial center. Severe anti-Jewish riots in 1929 led to the separation of the municipal cords binding mother and daughter towns.
In the hostilities preceding the War of Independence Jaffa became a stronghold of Arab fighters. For five months Arab snipers kept southern Tel Aviv under constant fire. On the eve of Israel's statehood, Jaffa surrendered. Most of its Arab residents escaped by sea to Beirut and Gaza.
After the War of Independence Jaffa and Tel Aviv have reunited as one municipal entity and Jews returned to live in Jaffa. Since 1966 the port only serves small fishing vessels. As of 2008, there were about 46,000 residents in Jaffa – 30,000 Jews and 16,000 Arabs.
The stamp was issued in 2012 as part of a three stamps series "Visit Israel 2012". Designer: Pini Hamou.