One of Israel’s most northern cities, located on the Mediterranean coast, Acre (also known as Akko), is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, first mentioned in 3500BC. Many movements and nations have left their mark, including Canaanites, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Turks and the British. Even Napoleon tried his hand, unsuccessfully, at conquering the fort, but finally gave way to the Turks. Despite being attacked by many armies, the walls remain standing. Tunnels leading to a 13th century fortress of the Knights Templar are just one of the many important archeological finds. Within the city walls are churches and mosques, temples, castles and of course fortifications. It is a journey for history buffs.
One of the features is the Turkish baths, now re-populated by animated statues with voiceovers telling the story of the history of Acre during the Ottoman period. It’s here that people met for their entertainment, banquets and of course gossip. The Hamam al-Basha has a series of hot rooms and an extravagant, hexagonal stream room with a huge marble fountain decorated with ceramic tiles. The Citadel has a less luxurious history. It was used as a British prison and location for a gallows.
Today, Acre’s population includes the highest proportion of non-Jews of any Israeli city and has an important community of Bahá’í, who see this as their most sacred city. The faith’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh, was imprisoned here and the Bahá’í faith originated from his cell.