The city of Herzlya is named after Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism. A statue of Theodor Herzl welcomes visitors to the city announcing his vision: “if you will it, it is no fairy tale” that became the watchword of the entire Zionist Movement.
In 1936, when the first settlers arrived to Zones A and B (Herzlya Pituach of today), there were only bare sand dunes, prickly pear bushes, fig trees and occasional small vineyards that belonged to the Arab village Sidna Ali situated to the northwest. The land in that area was known as Alharam. The sandstone hills of Zone C were sparsely populated. The drive to Tel Aviv took about an hour and a half.
The discontinuation of citrus exports during World War II brought about the development of other agricultural branches and industrial enterprises. By 1948, Herzlya's population was 5.300. After the War of Independence (1948), the municipal area was increased in size, expanding mainly to the seashore.
In 1960 Herzlya was accorded city status. In 1969 the city boundaries included two separate urban zones. The eastern part is mainly residential with a small airport (code: LLHZ), movie theaters, a sports center, professional basketball and soccer teams, and three high schools. The dune and sandstone hill area along the coast, western Herzlya, also called Herzlya-Pituach, contains 6 kilometers of golden sand with 7 supervised beaches, a stretch of popular beachfront hotels, a yacht marina, high-tech business area, busy restaurants and an exclusive residential area housing the residence of the United States ambassador and many of Israel's crème de la crème.
Tel Aviv's proximity accelerated the growth of Herzlya which had 16000 inhabitants in 1954, 35600 in 1958; currently there are 100,000. The city falls within the Tel Aviv conurbation. Its location 15 minutes north of Tel Aviv, makes it an ideal base, linking the city with the country's main road network: 40 minutes from Ben Gurion airport, 60 minutes from Jerusalem and 45 minutes from Haifa, Herzlya is the center of the country.
Archeological finds indicate that during the biblical period, Canaanites and Israelites lived there in permanent settlements, such as Tel Michal, near the Acadia Beach. The ruins of the once thriving port city of Apollonia have long been visible clinging to the cliff at the northern end of the Herzlya seashore. First inhabited by Phoenicians in the 6th century BCE, Apollonia developed extensively under Roman Rule (1-3rd century ACE) but it was during Byzantine times that it reached its peak. With the Mamluk invasion in the 5th century, the city was partially destroyed. In the year 1101, the Crusaders conquered Apollonia, they rehabilitated its fortifications and constructed protective walls and a port protected by breakwaters. Despite these defensive measures, in 1265, the city was conquered by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars, who ordered its total destruction.
In 1990, under the aegis of the Archeological Institute of Tel Aviv University in Cooperation with the City of Herzlya, excavations commenced: Apollonia National Park.