Sarona Museum

By Petal Mashraki | Published on 2/17/2024

Plan Your Visit

  • Location: The museum is in building 14, at 11 Aluf Albert Mendler St, Tel Aviv-Yafo. 
  • Open Times: Daily pre-booked tours 09:30-14:00. Visitor Center: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 09:00-17:00, Wednesday 10:00-18:00 (September-May), 10:00-21:00 (June-August), Friday and holiday eves 10:00-14:00. Saturdays by appointment only.
  • Prices: Entrance to the Sarona complex is free, but visiting the museum, Beit Habad and Templer Tunnel is 10 ILS. Payment by cash or credit.
  • Average Visit Duration: 1 hour.
  • Tours: Pro Tip: Tours of the Sarona Museum must be arranged in advance on the Sarona website, and are available in Hebrew, English, Russian, French, and Spanish. If you are visiting on a private Tel Aviv tour, your guide will arrange it for you.

The Sarona complex is an entertainment and leisure complex housed in the buildings of a Templer colony dating back to 1871. The Sarona Museum is in one of the historic Templer buildings and is the best place to start your exploration of this fascinating complex.

Pro Tip: The museum goes by the name Sarona Museum, Sarona Visitor Center, and the Sarona-HaKyria Visitor Center.

Sarona Visitor Center

Housed in the same building as the Sarona Museum is the Sarona Visitor Center. Here you can get information about upcoming events in Sarona. Most importantly, the center sells tickets for the tour of Sarona and other Sarona events. 

Pro Tip: You need to pre-book a visit to the Sarona Museum and then pick up your tickets at the Sarona Museum and Visitor Center.

What Does a Visit to the Sarona Museum Include?

  • Sarona Museum - The museum is housed in the former home of the Templer Baldenhofer family. Carl Baldenhofer was an engineer who worked for the Wagner brothers. After the establishment of Israel, the Ministry of Police and Minorities occupied the building. Later the Israel State Archives and the Prime Minister's Library were kept here. In the 1950s Israel’s Shin Bet (the Israeli version of the FBI) used the building. Pro Tip: Spot the Templer bowling alley located next to the beer garden.
  • Olive Press (Beit Habad) - In Pflugfelder House you can learn how the Templers introduced an olive press run by a diesel engine, to replace the traditional olive press that was turned by a donkey. See the olive press in action and watch a short film about the process and history of Sarona. Today the building holds a cafe, Beit Habad Cafe.
  • Templers’ Tunnel - During the restoration of the Templers’ wineries an underground tunnel was discovered connecting them. The Templars used the tunnel to move barrels of wine between the cellars of the two winery buildings. Barrels were loaded onto a small wagon and pulled by a donkey. In the following years, the tunnel was used by the Jewish underground. The tunnel was later used during the War of Independence, in an operation to dismantle, smuggle, and reassemble 15 British planes captured by the Jewish underground.

Pro Tip: Visitors are always accompanied by a representative/guide from the Visitor Center so you won’t get lost and you’ll learn about the sites!

History of Sarona and the Templers

The Templars, a German Christian sect, believed that populating the Holy Land would hasten the coming of the Messiah. And so they moved to Ottoman-ruled Palestine and set up self-sufficient colonies in various parts of the country including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. The colony prospered and the Templers were known for their advanced agricultural methods. 

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Sarona became the headquarters for the Israel Nazi Party. When World War II broke out, the ruling British in Palestine declared the German Templers enemy subjects and turned Sarona into a detention camp for the residents. Many Templers were deported, and others left on their own. 

When the State of Israel was established in 1948, Sarona was taken over by Israeli government offices. Then in 2006, after tireless work by the Council for the Preservation of Heritage Sites and the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, a plan was approved to preserve 36 of the original Templar buildings. Even some of the trees were preserved and still grace the gardens of Sarona. 

The original architecture of the colony buildings has been preserved and pleasant park areas, trees, and playgrounds surround the buildings. The complex covers 8,700 square meters and includes over 90 stores and restaurants. Perhaps the biggest attraction here is the Sarona Market, an indoor food hall with a variety of culinary offerings. But if you want to find out more about Sarona, then the museum and visitor center are the place to go. 

Why Visit the Sarona Museum?

The Visitor Center and Museum focus on the history of Sarona and how it transformed from a Templer village to a British detention center, headquarters to the Jewish underground, Israeli government offices and IDF headquarters (the Kirya), and finally to the restored complex we see today. 

The beauty of this museum is that you are walking inside one of the Templer structures as you learn about their history. See the ground floor, basement, and attic. View the handmade stenciled walls and floor tiles. The museum has several recreated rooms from the Templer period all with authentic artifacts, as well as displays of historic photographs and documents. 

But there are also rooms in the museum devoted to different periods in history. For example, one room illustrates the settlement during World War I, and another covers World War II. One room has photos and memorabilia related to the British Mandate and another recreates the office of the Minister of Police who used the building after the establishment of Israel in 1948.

On the Sarona Museum tour, you’ll learn about the Templers’ arts and crafts, the Jewish pharmacist who acted like a doctor for the Templers, and the winery run by the Templers. See the IDF antenna that received top-secret messages and learn how the Jewish underground built airplanes in the ancient Templer tunnel during World War II. You will also learn about the restoration process used to bring this remarkable complex back to its former glory. 

Pro Tip: If you like the idea of historic places being turned into leisure, shopping, and dining hubs, then you should also visit HaTachana in Jaffa, and Tel Aviv’s Old Port.

Sarona Whiskey Bar

Today one of the winery cellars connected to the Templer Tunnel is home to the Whiskey Bar and Whiskey Museum. You’ll pass the bar restaurant en route to the Templer Tunnel and see the 1,000 whiskey varieties lining the ancient walls of the cellar.