Officially declared a World Heritage Site in 1990, Acre's rich history is continuously being discovered as the city actively preserves its history through archaeological digs and restoration of buildings and places of historical interest. Acre's mixed ethnic and religious makeup also makes this city a must-see destination on any Israel tour.
A Wealth of Historical Treasures
Relive Acre’s history while traveling with the family on a tour of Israel. With a history dating as far back as 150 BCE, Acre is an encyclopedia of fascinating information about the different people and conquerors that lived, fought and developed the area.
Acre is mentioned in the Bible in connection with the Israelites of the Exodus story when they came to take over the land of Canaan. Moving into Roman times, Acre's strategic coastal location deemed it a battleground between the Roman Empire and its Egyptian and Syrian enemies. There was also Herod’s influence as he did a bit of building here during his period as Roman client king of Israel.
The Templars' Tunnel, which was built during the Crusader period, discovered in 1994 and opened to the public in 1999, is a 13th century passageway carved out of the bedrock of Acre, leading from Acre's Old City to its port. Walk through the remains of the Crusader Castle to imagine the final siege and bloody takeover of the castle in 1291 by the Mameluks.
The Ottoman rule of the 18th century added the Mosque of Jezzar Pasha. A local sheik and governor, Pasha also built a Turkish bath or hammam, the biggest of its kind at the time. One didn’t just bathe there – it was a place to meet and do business of all kinds. The Ottomans also built up the existing walls that surrounding Acre, the remains of which are prominent features of the city. The whole family will enjoy trekking Acre’s walls - climbing its towers and aiming its ancient cannons that were once used to protect the city from invaders.
Jewish History in Acre
Aside from Acre’s connection to Jewish history through biblical and ancient times, the city played a larger role during the period of the British Mandate in pre-state Palestine.
The British takeover of the Ottoman Empire in Palestine didn’t bring stability to the region. The British also had a habit of pitting the Arabs and the Jews against each other in ways that earned them the enmity and resistance of both groups. Zionist militia movements such as the Irgun and Lehi moved from sabotaging the Turks to disrupting British holdings and offices. Acre's former Crusader fortress became a British state prison known as the Citadel, which hosted common criminals, political prisoners and activist Jewish fighters. While this prison – with its seemingly impenetrable stone walls – was host to a famous prison break of 27 Jewish freedom fighters in 1947, it was also here that nine Jewish fighters were hung and executed and is now known as the Museum of the Underground Prisoners.
Modern Day Acre
Beyond the historical treasures, enjoy Acre’s colorful markets, waterside restaurants and picturesque fishing port, today a tourist-friendly marina. The city's ancient Turkish bazaar is currently an exclusive artists’ market, where you can have your portrait sketched or buy an original painting of Acre's seaside. Acre's most notable and colorful market is the one that runs through the Old City from north to south – walk the narrow and winding paths and make sure to pick up some fragrant spices, a thick, sweet cup of Turkish coffee and sticky pastries, unique crafts, and freshly baked pita along with thick and tasty hummous.
* Israel Tours
* Bar / Bat Mitzvah Tours
* Jewish Heritage Tours