The Templar Tunnels of Acre, Israel

The historic centre of Acre (modern day Akko), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perhaps the best-preserved old town in Israel, second only to Jerusalem.

A alley in Acre (Akko) old town

A alley in Acre (Akko) old town

Acre was taken by the Crusaders at the very end of the 11th Century to be their main port in the Holy Lands. After the capture of Jerusalem by Muslim armies in the 13th Century, it became the primary stronghold of the Templars, an order of Crusader knights. Acre was eventually the last Christian fortress in the region. Its fall in 1291 marked the end of the Holy Land Crusades.

Crusader courtyard built by the Hospitaller Knights

Crusader courtyard built by the Hospitaller Knights

After almost 400 years of near dereliction, Acre was reoccupied by the Ottomans in the 18th Century. Most of the current old town dates back to this period, although much of it, including the imposing citadel, was built using the ruins of the Crusader city as foundations.

Ottoman Citadel built on top of the Hospitaller Knights' Fortress

Ottoman Citadel built on top of the Hospitaller Knights’ Fortress

The street level of the old Templar town is about 25 feet below the current one. As a result, many Crusader buildings still survive, buried beneath the Ottoman city. Over the last few decades, ongoing excavations have revealed some of these structures, many of which are remarkably well preserved.

One of the excavated Crusader halls

One of the excavated Crusader halls

One of the highlights of Acre’s subterranean Crusader city is a tunnel that once connected the Templars’ fortress in the west to the port in the east.

The eastern end of the Templar Tunnel

The eastern end of the Templar Tunnel

Mind your head! Sue in the tunnel

Mind your head! Sue in the tunnel

The lower part of the tunnel is cut directly into the bedrock

The lower part of the tunnel is cut directly into the bedrock

The graceful arched roof is built from smooth-sided stone blocks

The graceful arched roof is built from smooth-sided stone blocks

Towards its western end, the tunnel splits in two

Towards its western end, the tunnel splits in two

Today, the excavated smooth-sided tunnel stretches almost a quarter mile, from the modern lighthouse to the imposing Ottoman Khan al-Umdan (Hostel of the Pillars), which served as a kind of warehouse and hostel for merchants.

The Ottoman Khan al-Umdan, near the tunnel's eastern end

The Ottoman Khan al-Umdan, near the tunnel’s eastern end

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which this week is Things That Are Smooth, Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge, which is Basement, and Jo’s Monday Walk.

For more images of our adventures in Israel, visit Rich and Sue’s Flickr Album 2010: Mediterranean cruise.

Foundations of the Templar Fortress at the tunnel's western end

Foundations of the Templar Fortress at the tunnel’s western end

If you’re the sort of person that loves a bit of fun and history on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in Adventure, Asia, History, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Templar Tunnels of Acre, Israel

  1. irinadim says:

    Wonderful post, Jaspa. Israel is such an interesting place and I’m so glad I can see its wonders through your blog. Jaspa’s Journey novels should be worth a read, but do I qualify as a reader at age 81 in March? 🙂

  2. restlessjo says:

    What a good-looking and fascinating city, Jaspa! I wanted to see more 🙂 Many thanks for sharing.

  3. Cee Neuner says:

    Great post. Thanks for adding it to the challenge. 😀

  4. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Rocha da Pena | restlessjo

  5. Pingback: One Word Photo Challenge: Bear | Jennifer Nichole Wells

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