Top Historic Sights in Acre, Israel

Explore the historic highlights of Acre

El-Jazzar Mosque

The el-Jazzar Mosque inside the walls of the old city of Acre is named after the Ottoman Bosnian governor Ahmad Pasha el-Jazzar ('the Butcher'). El-Jazzar ordered the mosque"s construction in 1781 and had it completed within the year. Despite lacking architectural training, el-Jazzar was the architect of the mosque, drawing up its plans and design, and supervising its entire construction. In addition to t ...
Founded: 1781 | Location: Acre, Israel

Old City of Acre

Acre is a historic walled port-city with continuous settlement from the Phoenician period. The present city is characteristic of a fortified town dating from the Ottoman 18th and 19th centuries, with typical urban components such as the citadel, mosques, khans and baths. The remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104 to 1291, lie almost intact, both above and below today"s street level, providing an exceptional p ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Acre, Israel

Al-Muallaq Mosque

Al-Muallaq Mosque was built in 1758 by the Arab ruler of Acre, Zahir al-Umar. It was built in a courtyard on the site of a structure commissioned by the Crusaders and which later became the gate to the Genoaese quarter of the city. Up until 1746, the structure was used as a synagogue by Acre"s Jewish residents, called the Ramchal Synagogue. The Jews still owned the building when Zahir chose to transform it into a mos ...
Founded: 1758 | Location: Acre, Israel

Hospitaller Commandery of Saint-Jean-d'Acre

The commandery of Saint-Jean-d"Acre is a monumental complex founded by the Hospitallers. From the first years of the establishment of the Crusaders in the city, the Hospitallers received donated properties. In 1110, King Baldwin granted the permission to them to keep the buildings located to the north of the Sainte-Croix church. In the years 1130, the buildings were damaged during works near the church and the Hospit ...
Founded: 1110 | Location: Acre, Israel

Khan al-Umdan

Khan al-Umdan ('Caravanserai of the Pillars') is the largest and best preserved caravanserai (roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day"s journey) in Israel. Located in the Old City of Acre, it is one of the prominent projects constructed during the rule of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha in Galilee, under the Ottoman era. Being one of four Khans in Acre, Khan al-Umdan was built in 1784 on the pl ...
Founded: 1784 | Location: Acre, Israel

Knights' Halls

The Crusader structures called the Knights" Halls or the Citadel of Acre originally served as the Knights Hospitaller Compound. They extend over an area of c. 8,300 square meters. Archeological remains from the Hellenistic Period (300-63 BC), from the Early Arab Period (638-1099 CE), to a large extent from the Crusader Period (1291-1104 CE) and primarily from the 13th century, were uncovered in the compound area. I ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Acre, Israel

Acre Prison

The Acre Prison is a former prison and current museum. The citadel was built during the Ottoman period over the ruins of a 12th-century Crusader fortress. The Ottomans used it at various times as a government building, prison, army barracks, and arms warehouse. In the time of the British Mandate the citadel in the old city of Acre was used as a prison in which many Arabs were imprisoned as criminals or for particip ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Acre, Israel

Terra Sancta Church

The Terra Sancta Church is the name given to one of the two Franciscan-run Roman Catholic churches located in the Old City of Acre in northern Israel, the other one being the Church of St. John the Baptist. According to historical documents of Acre, since the thirteenth century the Franciscans gave great importance to the city. They believed that the founder of the Order, St. Francis of Assisi, visited the city between ...
Founded: 1673 | Location: Acre, Israel

Khan a-Shawarda

Khan a-Shawarda (the Merchants" Inn) was most probably built by Dahar al-0mer in the 18th century. It has a square courtyard with the remains of a watering trough for livestock in its center. During the British Mandate, openings were made in the khan"s courtyard from the north and the south in order to facilitate traffic. It is believed to be the site of a Clarissan Nuns convent dating back to the Crusader Peri ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Acre, Israel

Tower of Flies

The Tower of Flies was a formidable guard tower/fort at the medieval city-port of Acre, which overlooked the harbour from a small island and protected the city’s rich maritime trade. It also served as a lighthouse. Its precise origins are unknown, but it is an ancient structure, most likely built in Phoenician times. It was the Crusaders of Europe that redeveloped the tower to the height of its prowess during a re-fort ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Acre, Israel

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.