Ramat-Gan – A Homage to My Hometown for Tu Bishvat
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
To be honest, I didn’t remember that Ramat-Gan was founded in 1921 on the day of ‘Tu Bishvat’, the ‘New Year of Trees’. It makes sense because ‘Ramat-Gan’ (lit. Garden Heights) was initially called ‘Ir-Ganim’ (lit. City of Gardens) and was meant to be a beautiful green city. The name change just added the topography factor. It is built on a hilly terrain and has a great view of Tel-Aviv and fresh air.
I was reminded of its establishment on ‘Tu Bishvat’ during one of the 16 tours that the municipality had organized for its townsfolk this past ‘Tu Bishvat’ weekend. I live in Ramat-Gan and for the past few years have enjoyed joining these annual tours. Some are in urban locations and have a historic theme and some are in the parks or surrounding fields and have a more guided nature walk theme. Both are to my liking and were a great way to introduce the city. During the year, you can reserve these guided tours directly via the Krinitzi House museum.
Trip Itinerary Options:
Guided Tour Overviews
Krinitzi House Surroundings – The Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) Historic General Staff and the hillside of hostels in the booming 1930s.
Napoleon Hill Surroundings – Ramat-Gan’s side of Yarkon Park.
Krinitzi House Museum
The Museum of Russian and Far Eastern Art
Ramat-Gan National Park
Man and the Living Museum
Whether you take a guided tour or not, the ‘Krinitzi House Museum’ is a location that you can visit regardless and where you can learn about the history of the city. A reservation is recommended in order to align with other group tours. Personally, all the guides I met were excellent and very knowledgeable so I warmly recommend trying them out. The house was built in 1925 and served as the house of the First Mayor Avraham Krinitzi. As the first and longest serving mayor in Ramat Gan (43 years in office), his visionary actions led Ramat-Gan to be a major city boasting a large industrial area where Israel’s Diamond Exchange is located, the national park, a football stadium, a hospital ‘Sheba Medical Center’, a university ‘Bar-Ilan University’ and no less important the ‘Safari Park’ zoo. The house was an open house in his day and is still a center for municipal activities and the hub of some of the urban tours.
Open, Reservation Recommended: Sunday-Thursday 8:30-13:30. On Tuesdays open till 17:00.
Ramat-Gan’s National Park is the second largest park in Israel after Yarkon Park, but the first public park that was planted (you’re right, on Tu Bishvat!). It covers 1800 dunam or ~450 acres about half of which are allocated to the ‘Safari Park’ zoo and the other half to the public. It’s a nice park to visit in general and can seal your morning tour if you go for one of the urban historic themes. In the park, there is a large duck pond, a playground, a kiddies train that is active on weekends and a small, but interesting natural history museum. If you take a walk in the park, you may come across Avraham Krinitzi’s tomb. He was buried there upon his request.
The Krinitzi House Surroundings – The Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) Historic General Staff and the hillside of hostels in the booming 1930s
I took two tours in the same area and heard different stories in each. For the purpose of this post I’ve combined them because they are in the same neighborhood. It used to be a very well-to-do neighborhood and the wealthier families of Ramat-Gan built their villas on the hilltop. In the 1930s, there was a booming hostel industry. Some started out as convalescence homes for medicinal purposes and others opened up to serve vacationers who couldn’t leave the country. One of the tours focused on these hostels and their stories. Both tours passed by the bench commemorating Chaim Nachman Bialik’s spot (the national poet lived in Ramat-Gan during the last year of his life) and by ‘Gan Avraham’, the garden named after the first mayor (Gan=Garden in Hebrew) and by Shlomo Katz’s restoration of the sgraffito that used to decorate the amphitheater in the park.
Another tour focused on the IDF. After the Declaration of Independence, on May 14th, 1948, Ben-Gurion realized that the former Hagana’s headquarters location near the shores of Tel-Aviv was vulnerable to attack and reached out to Avraham Krinitzi for help in locating a quiet place for the IDF’s headquarters. As you can imagine, he found it in this beautiful neighborhood in Ramat-Gan. The houses were evacuated generously by the families overnight and the IDF moved in. The tour will take you to several buildings related to this story and to an Egyptian spitfire bombing attack that took place afterwards on June 3rd, 1948. I had a special treat because a former lady soldier and Hagana fighter who served in these initial headquarters called Dita Vered-Katznelson joined the tour and told some additional facts about how it was. She rememberd the attack and much more and it was thrilling to hear her. She even brought some old photographs and a pendant that she had received from the IDF as a gift on conclusion of its first year. Her husband Amnon Vered wore his Palmach pin for the occasion. It was very exciting and moving to see them come forward with their son and grandson in order to share their stories on behalf of the younger generations.
During the Tu Bishvat tour, there was a special celebratory atmosphere because young children came from their kindergartens to plant flowers in ‘Gan Avraham’ and the current mayor, Yisrael Zinger came to greet both the children and the various touring townspeople. Since he was the former principal of ‘Blich High School’ and my math teacher at the time, I even got a selfie with him.
To finish off the day, you can do a bit of shopping on Bialik street. It’s a central street near ‘Krinitzi House’ that hasn’t been harmed by the opening of ‘Elram mall’ at its end (in case you want air conditioning) and has lots of cheap buys.
Napoleon Hill Surroundings – Ramat-Gan’s side of Yarkon Park
This tour was a nature walk tour, and luckily, despite its being February, felt very much like spring and especially suitable for Tu Bishvat. ‘Napoleon Hill’ is a mistaken name. The hill is an archeological site of an old village called ‘Tel Gerisa’ identified as the city ‘Gath Rimmon’ from the bible (Joshua 19:45). Findings from the Middle Bronze Age have been transferred to museums. During the walk, aside from the flowering plants you can see an old well on the hilltop and later on another historic site on the banks of the Yarkon river called ‘Seven Mills’. Flour mills powered by the flow of the river were in use during the Ottoman empire up until WWI. The site has been partially restored and additional restoration is ongoing. Other sites of interest are a new birdwatching eco-park and opposite it an enclosure of community gardens, which are interesting to look at. Although I went on a guided tour, this is a nature walk that you can take on your own. You just enter the park from Rokach street in Ramat-Gan.
Man and the Living Museum
As mentioned above, the museum is located within ‘Ramat-Gan National Park’. The museum has a number of zoological and paleantological exhibits such as an exhibit of prehistoric man (the different species) and his tools, an exhibit on dinosaurs and fossils, the human body and how various organs function and genetics. In addition, it has some artistic exhibits related to how artists capture nature including an exhibit referring to the artist ‘Nachum Gutman’ whom I mentioned in a previous post.
Open: Sun-Thurs 9:00-14:00
The museum contains two private collections as well as a changing exhibition. The first private collection belonged to Maria and Mikhail Cetlin and contains a beautiful selection of both Russian and French painters. It was given to Avraham Krinitzi upon his request as a gift for the new museum in 1959. The Far Eastern Art collection belonged to a private collector named Yechiel Nahari. It includes both Chinese and Japanese artworks ranging between the 13th-20th century. Both collections will be moving to a new museum complex that is being built where the ‘Israeli Art Museum’ used to be, after which all three will be located together. Currently the museum is located in the same building as Ramat Gan’s theater, which is how I placed them on the map.
I just wanted to mention this mall as a location that you can visit after either of the morning tours. The ‘Ayalon Mall’ has free parking, lots of shops, restaurants and a cinema theater.
The guided tours all took about an hour and a half. With the additional options you can easily fill in a day.
This is what it looks like on the map:
I hope you come visit Ramat-Gan. Are you familiar with other holidays that celebrate nature?
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