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.
It was in the 13th century that Acre was the capital of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The destruction of the Crusader structures during the Mamluk Period (1291-1517) left its mark on the compound.
During the Late Ottoman Period (1750-1918 CE), the citadel was built as part of the city's defensive formation on the ruins of the Crusader fortress and during the British Mandate (1918-1948), activists of Jewish Zionist resistance movements were held prisoner there and it served as the main prison in the North of Israel. The archaeological excavation of the Crusader remains and the exposure of a multi-period complex depict Acre's two golden ages – the thirteenth century and the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).