December 25, 2011

OAT Israel: Akko / Acre

The Crusaders took control of Akko (aka Acre) in 1104 and immediately began to contruct a series of fortifications.  The Muslims gained control in 1187 but surrendered the city to Richard the Lion Heart (King of England) and Philip Augustus (King of France) in 1191.  The Hospitallers, a monastic military order established to treat the sick, moved their headquarters from Jerusalem to Akko.  Eventually the Hospitallers were deemed too powerful and were replaced by the Knights Templar. We wandered through tunnels and past 15-foot thick walls into magnificent halls.
The Muslims regained control in 1291 and Akko became part of the Ottoman Empire.  When Ahmed El-Jazzar decided to build a citadel and palace in the late 18th century, he filled in the Crusader buildings with dirt.  Excavations began in the 1950s.

The El-Jazzar Mosque, consecrated in 1781/2, is the largest mosque in Israel outside Jerusalem. 
We all enjoyed the somewhat corny tour of the late 18th century Hama al Basha bath house.

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