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SLIDESHOW: Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station - a grimy commuter hub with a soul

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2019 06:46 AM

TEL AVIV - Opened in 1993 with hopes of rejuvenating one of its poorest neighborhoods, Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station is now commonly referred to as "the Monstrosity".

An urban development dream gone bad, the seven-storey jumble of grungy corridors was once envisaged as a slick shopping centre serving streams of commuters.

Instead, with many of its store fronts long shuttered, its labyrinth of passageways has given rise to an eclectic mix of commerce and culture.

A Philippine food market serves a large community of carers for the elderly, there's a makeshift Philippine church, a folksy Yiddish book centre and money changers.

Dancers, musicians and circus artists use its free space to practice and perform, and the homeless are also drawn into its shadows.

The station's diversity reflects the neighborhood, where a large foreign migrant population lives in mostly run-down apartment blocks.

Buses are parked at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 29, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

A bus stands next to a petrol pump on the upper floor of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel February 3, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

A general view of an entrance road into the basement of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel April 2, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

A man walks by as a woman waits outside a hairdresser shop at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 11, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

People eat food purchased from a nearby Filipino food market inside the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel May 25, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

A woman sells vegetables to customers at the Filipino food market at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel April 13, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Actors from the Mystorin Theatre Ensemble are seen inside a former box office as they perform in the group's show "Seven," a site-specific act that uses all seven floors of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel May 25, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Dana Forer, 40, an actress and manager of the Mystorin Theatre Ensemble, performs in the group's show "Seven," a site-specific act that uses all seven floors of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 25, 2019. "The Central Bus Station is a playground for imagination," Forer said. "I feel full of joy and creativity when we light up the dark spaces with our performance." Corinna Kern, Reuters

Lior Avshalem, 42, and Rotem Cohen, 41, actors from the Mystorin Theatre Ensemble, perform in the group's show "Seven," a site-specific act that uses all seven floors of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 25, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Tamar Lehman, 32, social counsellor for mentally ill young adults, plays an accordion next to books placed inside a cultural center used by "Yung Yidish," a non-profit organisation aiming to preserve Yiddish culture, at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 25, 2019. Lehman comes to the station often to practise dancing and play the accordion. 

"I felt this building is just like the people I work with - they may appear totally confused within themselves, not understood, bizarre, but the more you learn about the people and their inner structure you slowly become more familiar with their inner world, with all its craziness, and you see the beauty," she said. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Merry Christ Palacios, 37, a caregiver from Philippines, prays during a church service held at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 13, 2019. Palacios shops at the station and worships in its church. 

"It's special because I can find everything we need to buy," she said, but added visitors need to be "very careful about their bag, cellphone, money and things" as they navigate the station's hallways. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Stav Pinto, 24, uses a hula hoop as she practices her acrobatics skills during a weekly informal circus community meeting at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel July 1, 2019. Pinto employs her circus talents to teach life skills to special needs children. Pinto and her hula hoop take part in an informal circus group that meets on Monday evenings. 

"There's a magical air to the Central Bus Station that reminds me of a dark urban forest," she said. "It's a place of adventure where you can meet a variety of people and be exposed to different cultures. Every time I walk through it, I can discover a new place that is completely different from the others." Corinna Kern, Reuters

A poster rests against a counter in an abandoned cinema in the basement of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 2, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Seats are seen inside an abandoned cinema in the basement of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 13, 2019.

A broken mannequin is seen next to an artist's studio at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel January 19, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

People play a game of Bingo at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 13, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Actors from the Mystorin Theatre Ensemble, and a passerby, walk down the stairs during the group’s show “Seven,” a site-specific act that uses all seven floors of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 27, 2018. Corinna Kern, Reuters

Passengers stand in a queue as they wait to board a bus at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 25, 2019. Corinna Kern, Reuters