The Eclectic Style

Architecture in Israel

The Eclectic Style in the Holy Land is an important architectural style in Israel. As a private tour guide in Israel, one of the tours I like the most is the architectural tour of Israel. This post will be dedicated to one of my personal favorite styles in Israeli architecture; and that is the eclectic style. To begin with, the eclectic style is an architectural style that was prevalent in Israel in the 1920s from the so-called artistic stream. Now Eclecticism is essentially combining Western architecture with decorative styles from a large number of sources of inspiration. For example, classical architecture like the Greco-Roman Style. Or the Renaissance-Baroque style; Far East architecture; Deco; Near East; Spanish-Moorish style (Alhambra), Art Nouveau and ancient Middle Eastern architecture. 

In fact, the style was widespread in most of the Western world; and the eclectic style of Israel is unique in its use of biblical ornamental motifs. For example, Bezalel ceramic tiles with views of the Land of Israel; bible figures and biblical scenes; the date palm tree as an accepted ornamental element; Jewish Altar-like motifs; use of David’s shields and Hebrew letters; And more.

Characteristics of the Eclectic Style

Many houses built in the eclectic style can be seen in the heart of the Tel Aviv area. But quite a few buildings of this style were built (and some even remained) in colonies and other cities that had a Jewish population in the 1920s. Many confuse the eclectic and Israeli style; which was common in the first decade of the 20th century. Since both styles are very ornate; but the Israeli style clearly and intentionally demonstrates a mix of local Arab-Muslim architecture with Western architecture. While the eclectic style is almost indifferent to the source of the styles from which it draws inspiration (and copies motifs).

At that time, the Arab population of Israel also built very ornate houses; which could be called “eclectic”; and differed from those built by Jews. Mainly because of the large use of Arab-Muslim motifs. An illustration of an eclectic Arab building is the old Palace Hotel in Jerusalem; a building that has been demolished; but its facades have been preserved. Many houses in the affluent Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem – Baka, Talbiya, and Katamon – were also built in this style.

Land of Israel Style
In This Photo: The Old Technion Building in Haifa. A Classical Example of the Land of Israel Style

In the 1930s, with the arrival of the Fifth Aliyah from Germany; and with the arrival of many modernist architects in Israel (including a few who attended the Bauhaus School). So they revolutionized and dominated the International style. Since the early 1930s, Tel Aviv city engineer Jacob Shipman had refused to grant building permits for eclectic-style buildings, resulting in almost no more buildings of this style being built.

The Eclectic Style More In Depth

On my private tours of Tel Aviv, I like to go into the smaller details so please allow me to elaborate some more about the style. In addition to the many ornaments that characterize the eclectic style; there are also other hallmarks. For example, many of the eclectic houses are two-story or three-story high. And with the ground floor being used for commercial purposes (shops, usually). Now the buildings are usually symmetrical in shape. And in the case of corner buildings; they emphasize the corner prominently and even add a tower.

Also, a large part of the decorations is plaster ornaments. Usually purchased from catalogs and pasted on the structure. So that embossed ornaments can be found in different structures. Also the buildings, almost always, are covered with a thick layer of plaster. And horizontal slots can often be found on the plaster. Moreover, the windows are usually vertical; with 1:2 proportions. And with external wooden shutters installed on an iron hinge.

Furthermore, the facades of the eclectic-style buildings are very packed. Also, the architects of these structures made an effort to emphasize the vertical lines; and the use of colored ceramic tiles is quite common. There is a highlighted attention which is given to the street front. And there is an almost unmistakable absence of decorations on all other fronts. Usually, the roof tiles are quite low; and in most cases are hidden by a roof railing. Also, there are inscriptions on the fronts; as part of the decorations. Usually at the top and center; Semi-hexagon shaped arcane windows protruding from the front are used.

The Eclectic Style: The Pagoda House in Tel Aviv

A clear example of the eclectic style structure in Tel Aviv; which is incorporating motifs from many different sources with Western Construction is the Pagoda House in Tel Aviv. To enumerate the house is characterized by large arches; Doric columns; Muslim Arches; and an Asian pagoda as a roof shape. On my guided tours of Tel Aviv, I like to take my guests to check it out. By the way, this amazing building was renovated and since then it is probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Tel Aviv. If you want to go check it out on your own; it is located just next to the Norman Hotel. Yet another beautiful structure; so you get to see two amazing structures in one visit. 


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history.

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