One of the oldest continuously occupied areas in Israel, Akko (or Acre) contains the structural remnants of a tumultuous past. The annals of history may include nearly continuous conflicts, occupations, resettlements, and destabilization, but the upshot is an astonishing collection of Jewish, Greek, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, Crusader, and British colonial artifacts and architecture. Akko is also considered the holiest city in the world by practitioners of the Bahá’í faith (owing to the existence of the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, which houses the tomb of the faith’s prophet and founder).
Among the many sites worth visiting in the area are the iconic city walls (initially established by Crusaders, and sufficiently improved upon by successive Arab rulers to survive a siege by Napoleon), the Citadel of Acre, the Jezzar Pasha Mosque (which periodically exhibits a single hair from the prophet Mohammed’s beard), and the complex of halls, dining rooms, and churches that were built beneath the main citadel and prison by Hospitallers Knights during the Crusades. Suffice it to say, religious tourists and history buffs looking for exposure to ancient and medieval architecture will not be disappointed.
Also of particular interest is the Museum of the Underground Prisoners located at the water’s edge. This former prison was home to members of leading Jewish resistance organizations in the ‘30s and ‘40s, many of which captured headlines around the world when they executed a daring prison break in 1947.