Today we will be visiting Akko. This almost a full day trip includes the most popular tourist attractions like Hospitaller Fortress and Templars Tunnel.
Note: I’ve visited most tourist attractions in Akko. To see all relevant posts see Akko tag. Also, since I wrote this post, there were changes in the Hospitaller Fortress. I have revisited Akko on a later occasion and in that post, you can find the updated info. Check out: A day in Old Acre.
Note: this post is a combination of two half day visits. Therefore a visit to described tourist attractions will take most of the day.
Map of the area:
Let’s start with the parking. I have left my car next to Tunisian Synagogue (Eliezer Kaplan St 20, Akko). The exterior of Tunisian Synagogue is decorated with paintings and mosaics. I liked this one, of the ten commandments:
The Hospitaller Fortress
My first point of interest was the Hospitaller Fortress (official site).
The Hospitallers are a military, monastic order devoted to caring for the sick in the Holy Land and to maintaining the personal safety of the pilgrims who flocked to the holy sites. They managed hospitals in Jerusalem and in Akko. Already by the first years of the Crusaders’ settlement in Akko, the Hospitallers were given property in the city.
Treasures in the Walls Museum
At the entrance to the fortress, I have bought a combined ticket (Fortress + Treasures in the Walls Museum + The Okashi Art Museum + The Templars’ Tunnel for about 60nis). Thus, next point was Treasures in the Walls Museum (official site):
Treasures in the walls is not a big museum, but it’s quite lovely. It contains many artifacts from the previous century. There are also corners of different craftsmen, like this one:
There is also a corner with ancient furniture:
The Okashi Art Museum is quite small, and there was a modern gallery on display. I didn’t connect to it, and after ten minutes I have continued to the Templars Tunnel (official site).
The Templars Tunnel
Templars Tunnel is 350 meters long and it extends from the Templars fortress in the west to the city’s port in the east. It crosses Pisan quarter and in the past, served as a strategic underground passageway that connected the palace to the port. The lower part of the tunnel is carved in the natural stone and its upper part is made of hewn stones covered with a semi-barreled dome.
When you enter the tunnel, you can also see a short animated movie explaining the history of Akko.
I have exited Templars Tunnel next to the port and started walking along to the walls back to parking.
It’s maybe old method of cooling off, but it’s still efficient.
Jezzar Pasha Mosque in Akko
Our next point of interest for that day was Jezzar Pasha Mosque, AKA the White Mosque. It’s located on al-Jezzar Street and is named after the Ottoman Bosnian governor Ahmed Pasha al-Jazzar.
Next to the entrance:
The mosque was the project of Akko’s Ottoman governor in the late 18th century, Ahmed Pasha al-Jazzar (“the Butcher”), who was equally famous for his cruelty, impressive public works, and the defeat of Napoleon at the Siege of Akko in 1799. Jezzar Pasha ordered the mosque’s construction in 1781 and had it completed within the year; it was built over former Muslim and Christian prayer houses and other Crusader buildings.
Adjacent to the mosque is a mausoleum and small graveyard containing the tombs of Jezzar Pasha and his successor, Suleiman Pasha, and their relatives.
The mosque is an excellent example of Ottoman architecture, which incorporated both Byzantine and Persian styles. Some of its exceptional features include the green dome and minaret, a green-domed sabil next to its steps and a large courtyard.
It is the largest mosque in Israel outside of Jerusalem.
You can enter the courtyard and the mosque. Entry costs 10nis, and you can come during daytime as long as it’s praying time. Not sure regarding exact times. I was twice inside and in both cases, it was at about 10:30-11:00 am (after morning prayer and before the 12:00 one).
I’ve photographed the interior as well, but it’s not that unique. For me, the exterior looks better.
The green dome can also be seen when you’re walking along the sea:
Further walking along the sea and Akko walls you’ll get to the lighthouse.
Lighthouse during windy weather:
St. John Church
And when you continue walking along Akko walls, you will get to St. John Church (at the top right corner):
This Catholic church, built in 1737, is located next to the lighthouse. It was built over the ruins of the 12th C Crusaders church which was part of the Templars fortress complex.
It was built in 1784 on the place of the Royal Customs house of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Due to its plethora of columns the khan was named Khan al-Umdan which means “Inn of the Columns” or “Caravanserai of Pillars”. It incorporates forty columns made of granite that were taken from Caesarea, Atlit and the ruins of Crusader monuments in Akko itself.
Due to its proximity to the port, Khan al-Umdan has throughout its history been an important trading spot. Merchants arriving at Akko used the khan as a warehouse while the second floor functioned as a hostel. Camel caravans once brought produce and grain from Galilean villages to the city’s markets and port.
Nowadays the chan is standing empty. You can enter only part of the inside court, and you can not go to the second floor or the clock tower.
For more than a decade there are talks about restoration. Entrepreneurs bought the right to restore the chan and convert it to a hotel. But, there are some legal issues. I’m not familiar with the case, all I know is that the chan is still waiting.
Akko is a lovely place for a day visit with many nearby attractions. If you love old cities, then you should visit it. And do not forget to check my post from the latest tour: A day in Old Acre.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!