As a result of the unique preservation of the Crusader remains in Acco the city is a UNESCO heritage site. Much of the Crusader construction was buried under twelve meters of sand and debris some of which took over a year to clear.
The goal of the first crusade to the Holy Land in 1099 was to conquer Jerusalem and to free the Christian holy places from Moslem control. However the need for a port soon became apparent and the fleets of the kingdoms of Genoa, Venice and Pisa assisted in the conquest of Acco. In return they were allocated semi autonomous areas for their own small ports, hostels and market places, a major source of income. Some the caravanserai were later used by the Turks and have now been restored.
The Knights hall, which was the first part to be excavated, is actually a number of connected halls with arched roofs. Above them are the cells of the Turkish and then British jail. The large courtyard has a eight meter wide stairway leading to an upper level which was destroyed and later replaced by the Turkish fortress and jail.
Before the excavation the crusader courtyard too was covered with twelve meters of sand and debris and it served as the exercise yard for the prisoners in the Turkish and then British jail. To the side of the courtyard is a public toilet complete with ceramic pipes seating for thirty six.
On the opposite side of the courtyard is another vast hall with enormous round columns and an underground tunnel leading to what was thought to be the hospital and poste area.
In addition this complex one can visit the Templar tunnel which leads from the Umdan Khan to the sea front, the many churches, the fishing port, the mosque and the beautifully restored Turkish bath-house.
Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)
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