Rechavia was founded in the 1920's, on land purchased by the Israel Land Development Company from the Greek Orthodox Church. The German Jewish architect, Richard Kaufman, was commissioned to design Rechavia as a "garden neighborhood." Since then, commercial enterprises are limited in this area, to preserve its tranquil atmosphere. Many European intellectuals and professors chose to live in Rechavia in the early 20th century, as did various leaders and politicians. In keeping with the intellectual character of the neighborhood, most streets of Rechavia are named for Jewish scholars and poets from the Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain, such as Maimonides, Abarbanel, and Nachmanides.
Though Rechavia borders on the whirring traffic of the city center, there are many streets that are a quiet retreat from the noise. Greenery is lush in the building courtyards and twines around walls and fences. The shops that line the streets are small and intimate, and sell specialized items: gourmet chocolate, French pastries, art-inspired gifts. The café culture thrives in Rechavia, in particular on the main artery of Azza Street. Throughout the day, patrons with laptops take advantage of the wireless internet on offer in the Coffee Shop. A café which recently closed, Café Atara, was famous for being the pick of politicians; it was common for patrons to spot Knesset members sipping coffee in glassed-in porch overlooking Azza Street traffic. But in spite of its formidable history, Atara has since been transformed into Sushi Rechavia, the most popular kosher sushi restaurant in Jerusalem.
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