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The city of Herzliya is named after Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, the founder of the Jewish state and the father of contemporary Zionism. Herzliya is located in the Sharon region approximately 15 kilometers north of Tel Aviv.

The city is home to a population of approximately 100,000 residents and its area covers approximately 26,000 hectares. It is estimated that half of the residents are native born and the other half's origin is from the Middle Eastern, North African, Western European, America, and Commonwealth Nations countries.

Herzliya Historical Overview

It is believed that the area in which Herzliya is located has been inhabited for various periods of time, dating back to the end of the prehistoric era. Archaeological evidence dating from 7,000-5,000 BCE, including various hunting tools, indicates that hunters temporarily camped beside the Red Sand Hills and on the edge of Herzliya’s ‘Basa’ marsh, to gather food. In the area there is evidence of small settlements from Biblical times (the Canaanite and Israelite periods). There are indications that the Herzliya area was part of the Menashe tribe's estate, which extended to Nahal Yarkon, during the settlement period.

Tel Michal, situated south of the marina beach, is the site of an extinct coastal city with a fishing anchorage that was used by small merchant ships traveling between Phoenicia, Israel, and Egypt. This is evidenced by the discovery of ruins of citadels, buildings, and temples. The port city of Arsuf was founded by the Phoenicians who lived there at the end of the ancient Israelite era, the port was named after Reshef, the god of fire and light, which today is located near the Sidna Ali beach. Their major occupation was the production and trade of purple dye.

The inhabitants of Arsuf engaged in coastal trade and international trade during the Second Temple period, when the town was renamed Apollonia. During the time of the Mishnah and the Talmud, Apollonia was a major port city in the south of Sharon surrounded by rural villages where people cultivated olives, vines, and made wine and oil. Archaeological excavations in southern Sharon have revealed textile houses and habitations as proof of this.

In order for agricultural cultivation to be possible, the Herzliya marsh, called Basa, was drained and dried using the Roman-Byzantine tunnel that was cut across a gravel (Kurkar) ridge (its western development can be observed from the coastal road). It was not until the Talmud ("Byzantine") period that an open canal was cut that drained the swamp water to the sea.

Apollonia retained its importance throughout the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Muslim, and Crusader periods up until its destruction in the 13th century by the Mamluks. In its place, a lookout was erected on the beach, and to the south of it is a mosque named after an Arab warrior, Abu Al Hassan Ali, who fell in battle with the Crusaders. The "Sidna Ali" mosque became a sacred site for Muslims. Wealthy Arabs living in Jaffa, Lebanon, and Syria purchased the land of the area. The entire area was desolate, and the Great Swamp once again spread its territory with mosquitoes and fever pervading the region.

The Journey from Colony to City

Yehoshua Hankin, a prominent Zionist activist who was responsible for most of the major Zionist Organization land purchases in both Ottoman Palestine and the British Mandatory Palestine times, purchased approximately 1600 hectares from the villages of Al-Haram and Jalil, in 1921. An American Zionist society, the "American Zion Commonwealth Corporation" acquired 1400 hectares from Hankin for sale to Jews in Europe, the United States, and Israel.

On Sunday, November 23, 1924, seven members of the Pioneer Group arrived in the area to start the establishment of the area. The hardships of their journey foreshadowed their upcoming difficulties, and their fierce determination and great faith guided them to their destination. The group included Shimon Ze'ev Levin (from America), Yitzhak Binder (from Germany), Yosef David Bohukov, Moshe Kahani, and Yehoshua Avni (all three from Lithuania), Yaakov Guthertz (from Austria) and Nehemiah Ginzburg (immigrated to Israel from Russia as a child). The seven stopped in a desolate gravel (Kurkar) ridge and erected a hut to live in on the western side of one of the hills (today the Weizmann School). This was the founding of Herzliya.

As a result of the seven pioneers and the first hut, Herzliya is a symbol of the belief in the Zionist vision, inspired by Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, after whom it is named.

Despite hardships and loneliness, they developed the settlement, which attracted families. As the number of families increased, lots were drawn among the first 100 families, including 25 families from the "Bnei Binyamin" group who began farming the land.

Herzliya colony experienced significant growth between 1926 and 1935. In this period, new neighborhoods were established, orchards and plantations were planted on thousands of acres, and agricultural development took place. The first school opened in 1926, later becoming the Weizman School.

By 1931, there were already 1,210 people living in the colony. Due to its proximity to Arab villages and Bedouin settlements on all sides, Herzliya residents had to prepare for self-defense and looked to the Haganah, to provide them with security. The ancient Roman tunnel was transformed into a training facility where firing ranges and training exercises were conducted. On the shores of Herzliya, people of the colony received ships of immigrants, which were later commemorated by the monument to the immigrants that stands at the entrance to the city on the Haifa-Tel-Aviv road ("The Boat Junction’’).

Immediately after the War of Independence, in 1948, Herzliya numbered approximately 5,300 residents, while two years later, with the waves of great immigration, it numbered approximately 12,000 citizens. In 1953, the colony experienced an additional population increase, and in 1960, the number of residents reached 26,000. The rural character of the colony also changed as a result of the increase in population and on April 11th, 1960, the Israel Interior Ministry proclaimed Herzliya a city and mother city.

In Herzliya, residents have endured ups and downs through the years. During the great recession of the mid-sixties, Herzliya also suffered severe financial hardships, which led to the local government, which had been experiencing severe financial difficulties, being replaced by the Ministry of the Interior. A committee was formed to help rescue the city from its predicament.

The city of Herzliya continued to grow and develop despite the economic crisis, including the establishment of schools and educational institutions, youth clubs, sports halls, paving of roads and sidewalks, the installation of street lighting, as well as the planting of trees and gardens.

The 1970’s marked the establishment of several significant cultural institutions, including Beit Yad Labanim, dedicated to commemorating the people of Herzliya who perished in Israeli combat, and the Herzliya Museum of Art, which became a supra-regional centre for sculptural and artistic education. Additionally, the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1981.

In the years that followed, the neighborhood of Yad Hatishah and the neighboring community of Neve Israel underwent a significant physical and social transformation as part of the neighborhood restoration project. Additionally, the Sara, Weizman, Neve Amal, and Shikon Darom neighborhoods were developed and renovated, including extensive infrastructure upgrades. During these years an impressive entrance and coastline promenade was established along the Sharon coastal strip.  Herzliya's industrial area also underwent a major transformation resulting in the establishment of dozens of factories with high-tech production facilities.

As part of the establishment of the municipal sports center, the municipal stadium was constructed, followed by the Yigal Alon Olympic range, and the country club. The Hall of Performing Arts was completed, along with the Air Force House auditorium which serves as an urban centre of culture and art.

Herzliya's historical museum "Beit Rashonim" and the "Shalom Caspi Municipal Parents' Home", whose residents are mostly veterans, were also founded during these years.

In these years, construction and development projects transformed the King's Road leading to and from Herzliya into impressive boulevards, including Seven Stars Boulevard, Ben Gurion Boulevard, Derech Jerusalem, and Begin Boulevard. A number of new neighborhoods were also established, such as Panorama, Herzliya Gardens, and Tzamarot.

As the education system developed, new and diverse initiatives were introduced relating to formal education and community care. As part of the education initiative, an arts school was opened, the treatment framework for children with special needs was expanded, computers were introduced in all schools and kindergartens, unique classes were offered, and new primary and secondary schools and higher education academic institutions were opened.

In addition to establishing a religious community center for the city's religiously observant residents, which also serves as home for Herzliya’s religious council, the Tzviya Studio educational institution for religious girls of junior high and high school age also opened its doors.

Over 7,000 immigrants from Commonwealth countries settled in Herzliya as a result of the immigration wave that swept the country in the 1990s. It wasn't long before these immigrants became residents of the city and active members of the community. The city’s dedicated absorption process, which continues to operate today, assisted their effective integration.

Due to its prime location on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, maritime activities and tourism are the city’s hallmarks. In addition to the city’s impressive marina offering 800 berths, it offers an abundance of recreation and tourism facilities and a marina administration complex which provides all necessary port services. As a hub for tourism and recreation, the marina attracts tourists, visitors, and entrepreneurs from around the world, while providing a livelihood for thousands of city residents.

A statue of Herzl - by Uri Lifshitz

The story behind the "Herzl" statue

This statue of Herzl by Uri Lifshitz stands at the boat junction on the coastal road in Herzliya in memory of the state visionary Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl. It was commissioned by the mayor of Herzliya Eli Landau in 1994, and created by the late artist Uri Lipshitz. As the statue dominates the city of Herzliya and the surrounding landscape, it radiates an unequalled air of power and authority.