Tel Aviv Central Bus Station

As the world’s second-largest bus station, the once largest looks like MC Escher created it. It is the result of some miserable design and construction processes.

In its original conception, the station was supposed to feature two floors: one for commerce and one for public transit, providing an alternative to Tel Aviv’s former Central Bus Station. As a result of a conflict between the two leading bus companies at the time, another floor was added to the plan. This was so each company could have its level.

Construction was suspended when funding for the impressively sized building ran out in the 1970s. This left a massive building skeleton, taking up a large part of the neighborhood. The project was expanded with outside investors, but more retail space was needed to fund the remainder of the construction, and the floor plan was already quite complicated. The process was repeated several times; more retail space was added to the existing building each time, requiring more funding to continue construction. With six floors, over 1,000 shops, and even a movie theater, the station opened to the public in 1993.

A seventh floor was built on top of the existing building after a high level of pollution was discovered on the lower floors. Businesses failed, and many stores were abandoned due to the addition blocking natural light to the bottom floors, resulting in a decrease in pedestrian traffic. The domino effect cascaded throughout the building. Today, the building is mostly empty, with most stores operating in the passageways between the entrances and transit gates.

However, the building is a fantastic sight for urban explorers. There are organized tours of it on certain days of the year that include some of its abandoned, typically closed areas such as the cinema and old, disused platforms.

The things still functioning in the building are a Yiddish museum, art studios, cheap clothing stores, and a synagogue. 

One of the station’s unused tunnels is currently home to an urban bat colony supervised by Israel’s Nature and Gardens Department. Notorious for being confusing, the station has both quaint, modern parts and abandoned derelict areas.

You should be aware that the neighborhood this building is in is not a pleasant one, generally regarded as one of Tel Aviv’s less friendly neighborhoods. Most people commute through it fine regularly. However, it would be best if you were vigilant while traveling there.

Although, since it is a big bus station, getting there, or getting anywhere from there, is relatively easy. Most bus lines run through it, and the train station is not far away.