Akko, Holy Land
One of the oldest and most important coastal cities in the Holy Land, Akko is steeped in 4000 years of history. Minarets and church steeples are reminders of the different authorities who governed here, it retains the flavor of origins as a fishing village in the Mediterranean bustle.
When the Crusaders invaded Palestine, they made Acre (as it was called in the Middle Ages) their capital. But after 200 years the Crusaders were defeated, the city was ruined, and only in the late 18th century Akko was rebuilt and became a center of an Ottoman province.
The governor of Akko, known as El-Jazzar, is credited with fortifying the city and preventing its takeover by Napoleon's army. The walls, built by El-Jazzar, still surround the old city with its cannons, which are two centuries old.
The most attractive site in the old city of Akko is Knights' Halls. The Crusader quarters were abandoned when the Crusaders left, and later covered by dirt. The excavations of the (now underground) Crusader city began in 1950s and continue today, but in the area already open to visitors are vaulted halls where Crusaders actually lived, and a section of the tunnel which led outside of the city. The complex also includes Turkish baths from El-Jazzar's time, and nearby its entrance stands the mosque of El-Jazzar which was built on the remains of a Crusader monastery.
Another interesting site in Akko is the Baha'i gardens outside the Old City. The Holy Land is the world center of Baha'i faith, since the founder of the religion, Baha'ullah, was sent to Akko by Ottoman authorities, died in Akko in 1892 and was buried there.
Baha'ullah was imprisoned in the citadel of Akko, part of which served as prison in the past. His burial place, the Baha'i shrine, is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The entrance to the gardens is 2 km north of Akko, from the Akko-Naharia highway.