Since ancient times, the gateway to Palestine has been considered the magni?cent harbor at Acre. Now a small Israeli city with a mixed population of Palestinians and Jews, Acre has for more than 4,000 years served the hinterland of southern Syria with access to the long-distance trade routes of the Mediterranean. For a millennium a Canaanite city often under the direct rule of the pharaohs in Thebes, the city was subsequently besieged, destroyed, and rebuilt by the likes of Ramses II, King David, Ashurbanipal, Ptolemy II, Salah ad-Din, Richard the Lionheart, Napoléon, and Ibrahim Pasha. Its golden era was the two centuries it served as the key entry port and then capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, when Franks and Italian traders made it their link to Europe. Today its varied antiquities and monumental buildings attract many tourists, but the small ?shing boats drawn up in front of its seaside restaurants are a poor substitute for the hundreds of pilgrim and grain ships that used to moor below its gates.
[...] During the British Mandate, very little construction occurred in Acre, and the rapid growth of Haifa hampered Acre's development. During the same period, Zionist settlements sprang up in the surrounding area, and the town was enclosed from all sides with agricultural lands, thus pre- venting the possibility for further enlargement. The city was captured by Israeli forces during the ﬁghting in 1948, and most of its Palestinian Arab inhabitants ﬂed and were prevented from returning. Although Acre was originally assigned to the Arab state in the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, it was subsequently incorporated into the State of Israel in 1949. [...]
[...] Richard the Lion- heart subsequently recovered the city for the Franks four years later and massacred more than 3,000 of its inhabitants. The ﬁnal collapse of Crusader Acre came in 1291 after a long and bloody siege by the Mamluks. To deter any subsequent Frankish attempt to return, the Mamluks reduced the port, citadels, churches, and most other structures to rubble. In addition, they transferred district administration to Safed in Galilee, and when they eventually permitted visitors and pilgrims to visit the Holy Land, the required point of entry was the port of Jaffa, which was closer to Egypt and, because of its poorer natural defenses, easier to control. [...]
[...] Visitors are also drawn to the tomb of Baha Allah, the prophet of the Bahai faith; he was exiled to the city with many followers by the Ottomans in 1868, served nine years in Acre Prison, and is buried in the city. The underground Crusader ruins, in particular the Knights'Halls, are one of Acre's major sights. Accidentally exposed by a bulldozer conducting roadwork, the long-buried Crusader hall, with its dramatic vaulted ceiling, has been restored and is now the jewel of Acre's attractions. [...]
[...] Al-Jazzar was succeeded by Sulayman Pasha, who, during his ﬁfteen-year term, advanced the fortunes of the city and managed it well with the aid of his principal minister, a Jew named Haim Farkhy. Commercial life was invigorated through the construction of the Suq al-Abyad (the White Market). However, the troubles of the region once more impinged upon the fortunes of the city when Ibrahim Bey, son and heir of Muhammed Ali of Egypt, besieged Acre in his campaign to conquer Syria (1831). [...]
[...] Subsequently Ptolemy II, King of Egypt, seized the city in the third century BC and renamed it Ace-Ptolemaïs; he also relocated the city away from the ancient tell to its present site. The Seleucids and Ptolemies fought for control of this key port, and the city changed hands a number of times during the third and second centuries, ﬁnally falling to the Seleucids after the battle of Panias (198 BC). The Seleucids renamed it Antiochia and granted the city the privilege of asylum. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee