"Akko/Acre" Akko by leffe3
Akko Travel Guide: 160 reviews and 537 photos
Delightful small, essentially Arab, town on the north Mediterranean coast. The Old City is a wealth of alleys, semi-derelict buildings, Crusader subterranean vaults and cisterns all built round a charming port, one of the oldest in the world.
It's had a turbulent history, with four religions in more 'recent' times leaving their mark on the old city - Jews, Christians, Moslems and Bahi'a - with the transitions between the two being at time violent. But the history of Akko goes back much further - it is mentioned in writings in the 15th century BC and is listed as one of the places conquered by Tutankhamen.
By 701 BC it was a station outpost for Assyrian traders but Akko started to come into its own when occupied by Alexander the Great in 333 BC and it became an important trading port, built as it is at the end of a small peninsular, providing both direct access to the Mediterranean along with sheltered waters of the bay. It became known as Ptolomeus under the Greeks.
Next were the Jews of the Hasmonean period, but the Romans conquered Akko, murdering the 2000 Jews during the Great Rebellion in 66-68 AD (same time as the destruction of the 2nd Temple, Masada etc).
Byzantine then followed (it was during the period that St Paul visited the Chrstian community and the name Acre becomes known).
The most turbulent and violent was to follow with the arrival of the Crusaders in 1104. Up until then, there had been Moslem rule for 500 years, with Moslems, Jews and Christians living in relative harmony.
Its the Crusader/Moslem fight for the city that has provided a great deal of what we see in the Old City today - it changed hands 4 times between 1104 and 1291 and each of the occupiers fortifying the city to try and ensure it didn't fall to the enemy. By the time it returned to the Moslems in 1291, Akko was so scarred that it became a wasteland for 400 years.
It was the 18th century and the rebellions against the Ottomans that saw Akko rebuilt and refortified - both rebels and rules recognising the value of the fortified port. The town was under siege from Napoleon in 1799 - it was an important port by then, and it continued to be a siege city for most of the 19th century! British, Austrian, Egyptian forces all moving against the Ottoman rulers.
Akko's decline as a port effectively began with the arrival of the British in 1918 following WWI - the Brits chose to settle and develop Haifa as the main port. Akko became something of a backwater, with the Citadel being used in the Mandate period as a prison by the Brits for rebellious Jews and Arabs.
In more recent times, the city has developed as a Jewish/Arab town - some 40,000+ people now live in Akko. The modern sprawl outside the old city walls is of limited interest - low rise suburban homes, shops, cafes, banks, bus and railway station, and suprisingly few hotel options. There's a beach on the bayside of the town, but because of the industry lining the bay between Akko and Haifa, its not the cleanest or most attractive of places - good to walk along, but I wouldn't encourge much else!
Surrounding the city landside are the deeply impressive and imposing system of walls, moats and more walls, built... more travel advice
It being an Arab town, the old city of Akko has no shortage of humus and felafel places! They tend to be found nearer to... more travel advice
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