The most significant historic site that have survived in the old city of Acre are either Crusader or Ottoman. That is what you can see and they are what can be visited. In my opinion the most impressive is the Hospitaller Fortress. The Hospitallers were a military, monastic order. To our modern ear this may sound illogical, but this was a way of live in the Middle Ages. The Hospitallers were devoted to caring for the sick in the Holy Land and to maintaining the personal safety of the pilgrims. Indeed they fought to the death to protect the Christian patrimony in the Holy Land. Two hospitals were managed by them, one in Jerusalem and one in Acre. The Hospitaller Order thrived in Jerusalem during the First Crusader Kingdom (1187-1099), but upon its demise was forced to transfer its headquarters to Acre during the Second Crusader Kingdom (1291-1191).
Enter the gigantic underground store rooms. View the vaulted roof of the refractory. You can now see the newly discovered crypt with a Crusader museum just opened. If you choose, you can exit through the medieval sewage conduit which serviced the largest public latrine in the middle ages.
Israel’s Ministry of Defense’s Underground Prisoners Museum is currently located above the archeological site.
The Hospitaller left three main buildings in Acre:
- The headquarters (Knights’ Halls)
- St. John’s Church south of the headquarters (now a municipal community center in the Ottoman Saraya House)
- The hospital south of the church.
As part of the admission ticket, individual visitors are provided with an electronic tour guide in their language of choice. The guide is available in 8 languages – Hebrew, Arabic, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. The visitor is requested to leave an identifying document, which will be returned to him at the end of the visit.
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