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
Ahmad 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
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 Templars.
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
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 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 Napoleon’s defeat.
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.
more about, Acre - a 4,000 Year Old City.