A short account of Akko, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide
Akko’s old city is exactly what you would expect from a Mediterranean port city: a rare combination of past and present – impressive historical and archaeological sites, a lively market, both land and sea walls, beautiful views, good restaurants and a lovely atmosphere.
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A bit of history
During the Hellenistic period, in the 3rd century BCE, the city moved to a peninsula on the coast of the Mediterranean. A major city was built there, with a port that remained one of the largest in the country, until modern times. Akko was ruled by the Greeks, Romans, and later by the Muslims. However, much of the magnificence that we will see in Akko dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, the Crusader period.
The Crusaders conquered Akko in 1104, and it became the major port in the 12th century and was the only capital city of the Crusaders through the 13th century. During this time, Akko developed into a city of 60,000 people – far bigger than any city in Europe at that time. In 1291, the city was conquered by the Egyptian Mamluks, and was leveled like all of the other cities along the coast.
Much of what we see today in Akko was built in the 1700’s by governors Daher El Omar and Ahmed Pasha (nicknamed El Jezzar – The Butcher). From El Jezzar we have the amazing city walls, the Great Mosque, the Turkish Bath House, Khan El Umdan (Inn of the Columns) and other inns, and the prison.
In 1948, most of the population left Akko, and Jewish immigrants were settled there instead. When the Jews left the old town for new neighborhoods, it was once again occupied by Arab inhabitants, who today, number approximately 6,000 (the new city numbers 43,000).
What will we see in Akko?
Akko was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001, and with good reason as our three-hour tour of Akko will show. We will see the Knights’ Halls and tunnel, the Turkish Bazaar, the Turkish Bath House, the market and old city streets, sea and land walls and the Knight Templar amazing tunnel. Spending some time in one of its wonderful restaurants is also a great way to enjoy Akko.