Jaffa’s Suspended Orange Tree

The suspended orange tree in Old Jaffa

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Continuously inhabited since 1800 BC, Jaffa is one of the world’s oldest cities and as such, is replete with myriads of ancient sites, left by the multiple civilizations which ruled over the region. From afar, the quirky arboreal sculpture in the town’s arts district might seem like yet another relic of the town’s rich past, but looks can be deceiving, as this gravity-defying tree is in fact a contemporary piece of art.

Following Israel’s war of independence in 1948, much of Old Jaffa was left in tatters as dozens of buildings were severely damaged by the fierce fighting. As a result, city officials promoted a controversial plan to demolish the entire town and replace it with modern housing. Luckily though, a series of protests derailed the project which was scrapped in favor of a careful restoration of the ancient quarter, including its transformation into an artist village.


Fast forward to today, whoever strolls across the narrow alleyways of Old Jaffa will come across a rather bizarre sight. Hovering roughly a meter over the pavement is an oversized pottery vase which serves as home to a single orange tree. While it seems at first as if the citrus plant defies the laws of physics, the earthenware pot is hanged by a couple of metal wires that are anchored to walls of nearby houses. The tree is irrigated by a well-hidden drip system and bears fruits every now and then.


This quirky art installation is the brainchild of Jerusalem born artist Ran Morin who created the semi-natural sculpture in 1993. It has been rumored that Morin’s intent was to deliver a message about the modern-day detachment between humanity and nature. Others suggest that the tree resonates with the city’s recent history as a major exporter of oranges, famously labeled “Jaffa” by the Ottomans and then the British. Whatever the artist’s inspiration might be, one thing is clear, this whimsical monument still baffles visitors and locals alike.