Tourist Tip #385 / The Wishing Bridge of Jaffa

Some locals say they believe that if you hold onto a zodiac sign while looking out to sea, and make a wish, it will come true.

While not traditionally a part of Judaism, astrology is the inspiration behind a beautiful bridge well worth visiting when strolling around Jaffa.

Connecting Peak Park and Kdumim Square in the heart of the Old City, the bridge sports smooth, dark wood embraced by 12 bronze plaques, each representing a Zodiac symbol.

At the entrance to the bridge sits an intricate and beautiful stone mosaic of the zodiac signs. Local legend holds that if a person grasps the appropriate astrological plaque while gazing out at the Mediterranean Sea, his or her wish will come true.

Artists Esther Shlomo and Freddy Fabian sculpted the twelve bronze plaques displayed on the bridge; Varda Ghivoly and Ilan Gelber designed the mosaic at the bridge's front. All four artists reside in the Old City

Nearby, the Zodiac Fountain in Kdumim Square offers passersby yet another chance to make dreams come true. Visitors can toss a coin into the fountain with the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled. Ghivoly and Gelber also designed this fountain, composed of 12 chalkstone zodiac sculptures.

The astrological theme persists in other parts of Jaffa where many streets have zodiac names, such as Rehov Mazal Dagim – Pisces Street.

In fact the artists are carrying on a tradition that goes back millennia. An ancient mosaic in extraordinary condition discovered in archaeological exploration of a 4th-century synagogue in Tiberias shows the 12 signs of the zodiac, surrounding an image of the sun-god Helios. Ancient zodiac imagery has also been found in the south of Israel.

Aviva DeKornfeld
Aviva DeKornfeld
Haaretz