The Churches of Acre
Among Acre’s fascinating and beautiful buildings in the Old City you can see several picturesque churches each with an amazing history.
St. Andrews Greek Catholic Melkite Church faces seaward in the south-western corner of the Old City of Acre. It was constructed in 1765 on the ruins of the Crusader Period Church of San Andreas which was destroyed by the Mamlukes in 1291. The shell of the two story Crusader church survived and later stones from this original church were used in the construction of the church we see today. The beautiful interior has thick stone columns and a glistening gold, richly decorated iconostasis. There is a spiral staircase leading up to the choir and a high vault ceiling. The upper story of the original Crusader church remains and is still in ruins although plans have been made to restore these rooms. St. Andrew’s has a beautiful bell tower which juts out above the houses. The bell which once hung in the tower can be seen outside the church at the base of a staircase which leads up to the as-yet not restored second floor.
Just 50 meters from St. Andrews is St. John’s Church. This tall building is adjacent to the Acre lighthouse and is home to the Latin Franciscan community. The church has been tentatively dated to the 18th century due to an inscription on the wall of 1737. The original structure on this site was a church built as part of the Hospitaller Center and mentioned in documents from 1149. It is the only active Latin Catholic church in Acre. The church interior is sparsely decorated with exposed stone and a high vaulted ceiling.
The Maronite Church of Acre is a little over 300 meters from St. Andrew’s and St. John’s. The Maronites are an Eastern Roman Catholic church with origins in the Middle East.
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Catholic Church was built in Acre during the Ottoman Era. The church was constructed on the remains of a Crusader church which was probably destroyed at the end of the 13th century by the Mamlukes and stood empty for 400 years before being rebuilt. The church is named after the 1st century St. George of Lod (Lydda). The church has a plain exterior with a carving of St. George’s cross above the door. Above the main entrance on the southern side is a relief depicting St. George fighting the dragon. Embedded in the wall is a symbol from 1846 depicting the two headed eagle. Facing the church you can see a small tomb of George the Cypriot, an 18th century martyr but not the namesake of the church.
The Franciscan Terra Sancta Church is one of the Franciscan churches in the city. The Franciscans place great important on acre as it is believed that St. Francis of Assisi visited the city from 1219 to 1220. The first Franciscan monastery was constructed in Acre in 1217 under Father Elia Da Cortona.