According to the ancient Greeks, Hercules was
once seriously wounded. He found the herbs to cure
his wounds, in this port city. Greeks settled here
in the third century BC and apparently, they
believed that the word Akko derived from the Greek
word for cure, Aka. This might explain why the
name of this 4,000-year-old city appears in so
many different ways. Officially, it is usually
spelled as Acre (in English). However, in Hebrew,
the city’s name is pronounced Akko.
Hercules may not have been a mortal but many
humans of no-less notoriety are associated with
this ancient city. King David – conquered it in
the 10th century BC. Herod the Great and Emperor
Augustus met here during the Byzantine era and in
1191 Richard Lion Heart and Philip Augustus
captured it. Reputedly, Marco Polo sailed on his
journey to the Orient from here.
Pasha Al-Jazzar the notorious Turkish governor
ruled the city from 1775-1804. His cruelty earned
him the nickname Al Jazzar – which literally means
"The Butcher". The mosque that bears his name may
have played a role in a stunning defeat suffered
by one of the world’s greatest military minds. In
1799, In spite of a long siege, Napoleon Bonaparte
was unable to conquer Akko from Al-Jazzar.
Underneath the Al-Jazzar mosque is a vast
underground reservoir (which you can visit). It
has been suggested that this water supply probably
contributed to local residents’ ability to
withstand the siege. It is worth visiting the
mosque (one of the most important mosques in the
country) and its beautiful courtyard.
In 1291 Khalil, al-Ashraf Salah ad-Din – the
Mamluk King, conquered Akko and put an end to the
Crusader’s rule in the Holy Land. A new religion
saw its beginnings in the city, when the founder
of the Bahai faith, the Baha'
U’llah , was a political prisoner of the
Ottoman Empire, for many years.
The city’s geography dictated its development,
according to Raanan Kislev, a Conservation
Architect with the Israel Antiquities Authority.
While most cities develop in an outward fashion,
Akko, which sits on a peninsula developed instead
in layers. The two primary periods are from the
Crusader and Ottoman eras. The Crusader city, was
comprised of distinct quarters, Genoese, Pisan,
Venician, etc. representative of the European
merchant cities, and various ecclesiastical
ordrers, such as the Hospitallers and
Interestingly, the fact that so much of the
Ottoman period building was done right over
Crusader foundations contributed greatly to their
preservation. However, uncovering these
well-preserved Crusader ruins is a long-term
project that requires moving tons of debris.
Due to the city’s unique sheltered cove, the
city’s port was once one of the most important in
the region. Akko developed into an important
trade route. The city rose from national to
international prominence, twice. From 1191 to 1291
when it served as the capital of the Crusader
kingdom, (during the second Crusade). In the 18th
century, it was the principle city of northern
Israel and became famous around the world due to
Most people who have visited Akko are probably
familiar with the Knights' Halls. But now, after
much restoration, the city's primary attraction is
the Hospitaller Castle, so while you are taking in
the city's Gems, don't miss its main attraction.
With such a longstanding history and so many
colorful figures associated with this city,
walking here one almost gets the sense of stepping
back in time.