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Akko, so much history and so much to see

The Templar Tunnel

The Old City of Akko (Acre), just north of Haifa, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is steeped in history of all kinds. The city is surrounded by walls from the Ottoman times, just like Jerusalem. However, just below the surface is a Crusader city, almost fully intact from the 12th and 13th centuries. In fact, Akko was the Crusader capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (yes, I know that makes no sense) until they were kicked out of the Holy Land in 1291.

Besides visiting the Crusader era sites such as the Hospitaller Fortress and the Templar Tunnel there are other very interesting places to explore and stories to hear. Did you know that in 1799 Napoleon attacked the city and lost? The Ottoman governor who defeated him was Al Jazaar, the butcher. Of course he had some help from the British - they never did like the French!

Other great places to visit are the beautiful Turkish bath and mosque which Al Jazaar built which is known as, what else - the Al Jazaar Mosque. Its one of the few mosques in Israel which are open to the general public. It's famous among Muslims for having an artifact from the prophet Mohamed. The mosque even has a Jewish connection. You can also see the synagogue of the Ramhal who settled in Akko in the mid 1700's. And of course don’t miss walking on the ramparts and visiting the port.

Also inside the Old City is a very important site not to be missed - Akko Prison, now the Underground Prisoners Museum. This prison held such luminaries such as the founder of the Baha’i faith in the 1800's and Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the Zionist Revisionist party (precursor to today's ruling Likud party) in the 1920’s. But what it’s really famous for are the gallows where pre-state prisoners were hung and the great escape of underground prisoners which occurred during the British Mandate.

Outside the Old City are some places of interest too. There is the Tunisian Synagogue with its amazing mosaics in every possible spot. And then there are the Baha’i Gardens, not to be confused with the Baha'i Gardens in neighboring Haifa. The gardens in Akko surround the historic mansion where Baha'ullah, the prophet-founder of the Baha'i faith lived during his final years, after being released from Akko prison. His remains were laid to rest here.

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