Akko Historical Sites

| August 4, 2013 | 0 Comments
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Akko (aka Acre) Historical Attractions

The Hamam Al Basha

The local hamam (bathhouse) was both a place of religious purification before prayers and a social gathering place in the Ottoman Empire. This hamam was originally built by Jazzar Pasha, who was the Turkish governor of Akko towards the end of the 18th century.

Hamam Al Basha

Hamam Al Basha (Photo: Deror Avi©)

Here gathered top government officials, local leaders and political wannabes , the academic elite and the wealthy, spending hours whiling away their time gossiping, discussing local events and being pampered by the attendants. And those attendants, “invisible” in their silence, listened to every word that was spoken. The probably knew more about local politics than anyone else – and they also knew how to hold their silence.

Being a bath attendant was a position of responsibility that was often passed down in one family through the generations. Here, in the rebuilt hamam, you can walk through the various hot rooms of the bathhouse, see the life-size sculptures of the local officials being attended and watch and listen to videos displayed on the walls of conversations between Turkish governors and politicians. You’ll also listen to the generations of bathhouse attendants discussing among themselves what they saw and heard, giving visitors a unique inside view of the rich history of Akko.

The Old Sea Walls

Remainder of Harbor Walls acre

Remainder of Harbor Walls (Photo: Ann Goldberg®)

The seawalls were for centuries Akko’s main fortifications that kept the enemy at bay. You can still see the gun slits in the walls in some places. Today, the view of Akko bay and the Mediterranean Sea from the remains of the old walls is spectacular. Time your visit for late afternoon and watch the sun slowly dipping into the sea and sliding from red to purple as it disappears. Watch the fishermen hauling their catch and take a boat ride around the harbor or take a ride in the local carriages.

Akko Shuk (Market)

The strong aroma of Oriental spices always tells you when you’re approaching a local market. The colorful array of clothes and materials hanging outside the shops and the competitive shouts of the vendors as they encourage you to come into their stores are other typical sights and sounds. This is the place for you to try out your bargaining skills. Never pay what is asked – always quote something far lower, maybe 50%, and then meet each other halfway. There are often interesting trinkets, souvenirs, local-made tableware and jewelry to be found.

Khan Al Umdan – Clock Tower

Clock Tower Outside Khan Al Umdan

Clock Tower Outside Khan Al Umdan (Photo: Ann Goldberg®)

As you leave the market toward the direction of the port, you’ll pass a building with a clock tower at its top. This was originally a khan – an inn for travelers– and it has been painstakingly restored and is part of the World Heritage Site of Akko. The inner courtyard is comprised of many impressive columns and arches – hence its name (“umdan” means a column).

It was built in the 18th century, when Akko was an important international port and merchants arrived, disembarked from their ship and headed straight for the khan to rest and refresh themselves before setting off to sell their wares.

The Ramchal Synagogue

Ramchal Synagogue

Ramchal Synagogue

Inside the alleyways of the Arab market, you’ll find one of Akko’s most famous, and probably smallest, synagogues. It is named for its founder, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, a brilliant mystic, who is known by the acronym the Ramchal. The Ramchal was born in Italy, spent several years in Amsterdam, Holland, then came to Akko in 1743. He and his family died four years later, in 1747, in an outbreak of the plague.

The Ramchal is most famous for his moral guide, Mesillas Yesharim (The Way of the Just). This is considered the seminal work of the Mussar Movement, which entailed study of Jewish values and ethics.

House Of Chaim Farchi

Born in Damascus to a wealthy family, Chaim Farchi became financial adviser to Al Jazzar, a cruel despot who governed Akko. However, Farchi was successful in many areas. He was instrumental in keeping Napoleon at bay and also did everything that his position allowed to help alleviate the tax burdens of the Jews of Akko. Ultimately, he was murdered as a traitor, his family was not allowed to bury him and his body was thrown into the sea.

Akko: Did You Know?

The Ramchal used to learn with the Chief Rabbi of Safed , Rabbi Moshe Malchi, every day. They both died of the plague at the same time. In a neighboring village of Kfar Yasif there is a cemetery for those who died in the plague and there are two large, imposing monuments there, one with The Chief Rabbi’s name and the other blank. Many people believe that this is where the Ramchal is buried.  However, his “official” tomb is in Tiberias, next to Rabbi Akiva’s.

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Category: Acre, Historical

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