by Yaell Adar
The Templars, who were also known as the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, built this tunnel. In the second half of the 12th century they built their quarter in the southwestern part of Akko. Discovered in 1994, this tunnel, which was carved into the bedrock has been open to the public since August of 1999.
You could easily miss it, if you did not know of its existence and since it will only take a few minutes of your time it would be a shame to miss it if you are already walking in the area.
The tunnel leads from the port in the east to the fortress in the western part of the city. It is about 1050 feet (350 meters long) and crosses the Pisan quarter. To maintain a fixed groundwater level a special water pumping system had to be installed and a wooden walkway was constructed above the water so that when visitors walk they can see the water on either side of the walkway. The water, by the way, is fresh water and not salt water as one might expect.
King Baldwin II of Jerusalem gave the Order lodging in his palace – near the area where the Jewish Temple had once been, which how the Order got its name, The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. It was established in Jerusalem during the Crusade era when pilgrims were routinely attacked by Muslims. Eight or nine French knights who decided something had to be done to safeguard passage of the pilgrims established the Order specifically to ensure the pilgrims protection.
With time, the Order expanded its activities beyond the protection of pilgrims and became a formidable military strength with considerable wealth. The Order also became extremely secretive.
Fear of their increasing strength led to accusations of heresy by King Philip IV of France and ultimately resulted in the suppression of the Order by Pope Clement V in March of 1312. Subsequently – Jaques de Molay, the Order’s grand master was burned at the stake in 1314.
Directions: The port side entrance to the tunnel is located on Haganah Street, near the Uri Buri restaurant.
Visiting Hours: Daily 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Entry fees apply.