One of the world’s most ancient port cities, Acre has been around for 4,000 or so years. When you enter this UNESCO World Heritage site, imagine driving back in time to the 12th century, to when it was the Capital of Jerusalem. Stop by the Treasures in the Wall Museum to see hundreds of objects from Acre’s rich history – or wander the walls that surround the city yourself.
An Underground 12th Century
Back in the 12th century, a military organization called The Hospitallers started operating from a 3-story building in Acre. This building, now known as the Hospitaller Fortress, catered to local ill and kept tourists safe. The initial intention wasn’t to build it underground, yet newer construction a few centuries later left it buried and it has yet to be fully excavated.
But there’s still plenty to see. Walk through the large backyard and peek into a well and two pools. Walk through the rooms, with their thick walls and the arches that separate one room from another. You can even see what central sewage systems, dining rooms, art rooms and prisons looked like 9 centuries ago.
Centuries-Old Cultural and Religious Co-Existence
The Ottomans conquered Acre in the 16th century and left their mark in the centuries that followed. Among others, they built the Khan al-Umdan, which became the place to be for merchants that wanted to sell their products. It was also the hotel where they stayed when they came to town. This is still the place for travelers to go, especially during the Acre Festival of Alternative Theatre, which is held in the Khan every fall.
Rumor has it that Bahaullah received guests there in the 19th century. That’s the guy that founded the Bahai faith. You can visit his home by dropping by the Bahai Gardens. They might not be as famous as their sister gardens in Haifa, but you can still find beautiful flora that’s been designed in geometrical shapes.
Yet the Bahai faith isn’t the only religion to explore when experiencing Acre. Expect to find the Al-Jazzar mosque here – only the largest mosque in Israel outside Jerusalem – co-existing for centuries with churches and synagogue.