News / City Life

New bus station, same old 'balagan': the hidden gems of Tel Aviv's HaTachana HaMerkazit HaChadasha

Mercazit
© David Benardete
At first glance, Tel Aviv’s monstrous New Central Bus Station may seem like a major urban design 'fail', and in many ways it is, but scratch the surface of this building that locals both love to hate and hate to love and there are actually plenty of hidden surprises.
 
For example, away from all the 'balagan' of cheap clothing stores, there is actually a fully functioning Yiddish museum. Yung Yidish boasts an impressive collection of Yiddish books and memorabilia as well as a stage for hosting modern Yiddish bands.
 
shopping

© David Benardete

The bus station serves as a center for many of the city’s foreign worker and refugee communities as well, including the Filipino community. At any given time, you can find groups of Filipino women in deserted stories singing karaoke and getting their groove on.

The bus station isn’t immune to the hipster invasion of South Tel Aviv, with a plethora of indie art galleries and pop-up shops springing up all over the place. There are also plenty of dance and theater companies who use the space to practice and perform, such as the Mystorin Theater Group.
 
Seven

© David Dector

 

Deep below ground level is where the action really gets funky though. It’s always good to know where the best nuclear bomb shelter is in the city, and with a capacity of 16,000 people, the one here is at the top of the list. Also, make sure to check out the nearby bat cave, which has actually been declared a nature reserve because of the huge amount of bats that have set up home there.
 
The building’s architect, Ram Karmi, planned the structure with the intention of making people so disoriented that they would get lost among the shops and spend money. Well, he definitely succeeded. That’s why there are no exact locations or directions given for the “attractions” mentioned here. It’s best just to ask someone when there. That’s part of the charm of this monster - even if it takes hours longer than it should, you always get where you need to go, while discovering plenty of hidden treasures along the way.
 
street art

© David Benardete

 

 

 

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