Tel Aviv's Sharona
Tel Aviv's Sharona
Amir Ziv

TEL AVIV — "A few steps away from the all the urban fuss ..." And so begins the seduction advertized on the website of a unique approach to the city shopping mall.

It is indeed hard to imagine a public consumer space as beautiful as this one. Historical stone houses meticulously restored, neatly cut lawns, flourishing gardens, natural spring water pools and benches designed to fit under the countless trees.

Who would have thought that this could be possible here, in the middle of bustling Tel Aviv?

Sharona is a brilliant illusion with the ultimate mission to sell consumer products, as incredible aesthetics stand at the center of a new shopping experience. It is the perfect decoration designed to make you want to put your hand in your pocket.

Despite appearances, "people" no longer live there and there is no real "life" to speak of. You will find neither artists nor intellectuals who would otherwise typically shape the cultural aspect of a place. They are not needed. This aspect was built in to the edifices by the very talented producers and directors. Sharona is aesthetics as a replacement for content.

At the center are 36 German Templer houses which were built at the end of the 19th century, recently restored in a multi-million-dollar project to clear the field and rigorously reconstruct every house.

Most of the houses have now become shops of Israeli and foreign fashion brands of footwear, jewelery, body care, household goods and restaurants of different sizes. The aesthetics created by the Protestant farmers who founded Sharona 150 years ago has been preserved, but their simple agrarian lifestyle is nowhere to be found.

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