One of the oldest cities in the world that has been inhabited continuously back to the time of the Pharaohs, is Acre (also spelled Akko) and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the amount of impressive buildings with the walls and strongholds that show the marks of a number of occupiers over the centuries..
The city is located in Israel’s Western Galilee area on a headland on the North shore of Haifa Bay. The Old City’s beautiful, ancient sandstone walls are washed by the waves from the Mediterranean Sea that crash against them.
In ancient times Acre was one of the most important cities of the region, captured by Richard the Lionheart in 1191 during the Crusades and then the Ottomans who inhabited it for many centuries. At some stage Napoleon Bonaparte tried to conquer Acre but failed because of the strong fortifications of the walls. Eventually he retreated after approximately two months of repeated attempts.
Ottoman rule came to an end in 1918 when the British defeated the Turks and Acre became part of the British Mandate area. Britain made use of the fortress as a high security prison. It was here that they kept captured members of the various Jewish underground groups while awaiting execution. On May 4 1947, the Irgun underground organization planned and executed a dramatic rescue attempt and although only a few of the prisoners were rescued it was still a serious blow for the British and a morale booster for the Jews.
In May 1948 Israeli troops took control of Acre and it was made part of the State of Israel after the War of Independence.
Today Acre is inhabited by Jews and Arabs living side by side and a visit to this fascinating city is part of the Israel experience. Visitors can visit the site of the Memorial Museum to the Underground Prisoners at the site of the Fort. See the Death Cell and the Gallows with a noose still hanging over a trap door.
Wander through the alleys and underground passages to view a mosque and a Christian monastery, see the ancient Turkish Baths and the Knights Templar Halls with an amazing tunnel and fascinating archeological finds. There are many churches and interesting museums. Afterwards enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the large variety of Restaurants at the Marina and visit the quaint fishing port.
All the sites in Acre fall under the patronage of the Visitors Center located at the Enchanted Garden where visitors can obtain all the necessary information they will need to tour around the old city. Guided tours of Acre are available for those who wish.