Acre (Akko)

Last Wednesday my lab group made a trip to the city of Acre (Akko in Hebrew, Akka in Arabic). The city is located in the north of Israel in the western region of the Galilee and sits across Haifa in Haifa Bay. Acre is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Israel: it was first a Canaanite city state until it was (like the rest of the cities in the region) conquered by the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, British etc. Acre is probably most famous for its role in the Crusades. It was first captured by Crusaders in 1104, then recaptured by Saladin (Salah al-din) in 1187. The Muslims occupied Acre for three years until King Richard the Lionheart recaptured the city in 1190. From then Acre became a Crusader strong hold and port until it was taken over by the Mamluks in 1291, who built their city on top of the medieval architecture. In 1799 Napoleon besieged the city but failed and returned to Egypt, ending the French campaign in the Middle East. Acre was under the control of the Ottoman Empire until captured and made part of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1918 where it became famous for the Acre Prison Break (see Citadel entry).

We spent most of our time in the Old City of Acre visiting most of the main sites and museums. Acre is currently predominantly Arab which meant we were able to try out more traditional Arab foods (other than hummus). One of our first stops was to the house of an old Arab lady who prepared cookies stuffed with figs and dates (pictured below) and Arabic coffee (it is extremely bitter and I wouldn’t say it’s so much better than American coffee but I would be shot here for saying that out loud).

The rest of our day we were shown around by a tour guide who asked us “riddles” about Acre that made no sense and bad jokes about the city. We ended our day with a traditional lunch/dinner in a local Arab restaurant – hummus and falafel and pita again.

The next couple of posts highlight the main attractions of our day in Acre.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on January 15, 2011.

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