Old City of Acre

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 picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem.

Vieille ville d’Acre

Acre est une ville portuaire fortifiée historique où les établissements humains se sont succédés sans interruption depuis l'époque phénicienne. La cité actuelle est caractéristique des villes fortifiées ottomanes des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, avec sa citadelle, ses mosquées, ses khans (caravansérails) et ses bains publics. Les vestiges de la ville des Croisés, qui datent de 1104 à 1291, sont pratiquement intacts, tant en sous-sol qu'en surface, donnant une image exceptionnelle de ce qu'étaient l'organisation de l'espace urbain et les structures de la capitale du royaume des Croisés de Jérusalem, au Moyen-Age.

مدينة عكّا القديمة

عكّا مدينة تاريخية محصّنة اشتهرت بمينائها العريق.توالت عليها حركات الاستيطان البشرية من دون توقف منذ الحقبة الفينيقية. أما مدينة عكّا الحالية فهي تميّز المدن المحصّنة العثمانية العائدة إلى القرنين الثامن عشر والتاسع عشر، بقلعتها، ومساجدها، وخاناتها وحمّاماتها العامة. وآثار مدينة الصليبيين التي ترقى إلى الفترة بين العامين 1104 و1291 سليمة بالكامل تقريبًا سواء أكانت تحت الأرض أم على سطحها، ما يكوّن صورة استثنائية لما كان عليه تنظيم المساحات العامة والبنى في عاصمة المملكة الصليبية في القدس، في القرون الوسطى.

source: UNESCO/ERI

阿克古城

阿克是个有城墙的港口城市,历史悠久,自腓尼基时代起,就一直有人类居住在这里。现在的城市是土耳其人18世纪到19世纪之后建立发展的要塞城镇,拥有保存完好的城堡、清真寺、商栈和土耳其浴室等建筑。城中十字军的遗址可以追溯到1104年到1291年,高于或低于如今的街道平面,保留完好,生动再现了中世纪耶路撒冷十字军王国的城市规划和城市结构。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Старый город в Акре (Акко)

Акра – это исторический укрепленный город-порт, непрерывно развивающийся начиная со времен древней Финикии. Современный город имеет укрепленную старую часть, датируемую периодом Оттоманской империи (XVIII-XIX вв.), с ее типичными компонентами – цитаделью, мечетями, караван-сараями и банями. Остатки города крестоносцев, относящиеся к 1104-1291 гг., лежат почти ненарушенными ниже современного уровня улиц, наглядно демонстрируя вид планировки и застройки столицы средневекового Иерусалимского королевства крестоносцев.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad vieja de Acre

Acre es una histórica ciudad portuaria fortificada que se halla emplazada en un sitio donde se establecieron sucesivamente distintos pueblos desde tiempos de los fenicios. La ciudad vieja actual conserva las características de las ciudades fortificadas otomanas de los siglos XVIII y XIX, con su ciudadela y sus mezquitas, caravasares y baños de vapor públicos. Los vestigios de la época de los cruzados, que datan del periodo 1104-1291 y se hallan prácticamente intactos tanto en el subsuelo como en la superficie, ofrecen una visión excepcional de la ordenación del espacio urbano y las estructuras de la ciudad que fue capital del reino cristiano de Jerusalén en la Edad Media.

source: UNESCO/ERI

アッコ旧市街

source: NFUAJ

Oude stad van Acre

Acre (Akko) is een historische ommuurde havenstad met ononderbroken bewoning sinds het Fenicische tijdperk. De stad ligt op een schiereiland met een natuurlijke baai en kreeg hierdoor internationale betekenis tussen 1104 en 1291 als hoofdstad van het kruisvaarderskoninkrijk van Jeruzalem, na ontwikkeling tot belangrijkste havenstad in het Heilige Land. Het huidige Acre heeft alle kenmerken van een vestingstad uit de Ottomaanse tijd (18e en 19e eeuw), met typische stedelijke componenten zoals de citadel, moskeeën, khans en baden. De overblijfselen hiervan liggen bijna intact zowel boven als onder het huidige straatniveau. Dit biedt een uitzonderlijk beeld van de indeling en bouwwerken van de stad.

Source: unesco.nl

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Old City of Acre © UNESCO
Statement of Significance

The World Heritage Committee inscribed The Old City of Acre on the World Heritage List under criteria (ii), (iii), and (v):

Criterion (ii): Acre is an exceptional historic town in that it preserves the substantial remains of its medieval Crusader buildings beneath the existing Moslem fortified town dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Criterion (iii): The remains of the Crusader town of Acre, both above and below the present-day street level, provide an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Criterion (v): Present-day Acre is an important example of an Ottoman walled town, with typical urban components such as the citadel, mosques, khans, and baths well preserved, partly built on top of the underlying Crusader structures.

Long Description

Acre is an exceptional historic town in that it preserves the substantial remains of the medieval Crusader buildings beneath the existing Muslim fortified town dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The result is an exceptional picture of the layout and structures of the capital of the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Present-day Acre is an important example of an Ottoman walled town, with typical urban components such as the citadel, mosques, khans and baths, well preserved, partly built on top of the underlying Crusader structures.

Ancient Acre was situated on Tel Akko, about 2.5 km east of the location of the old city. Around 1900 BC the town was fortified by a high earthen rampart with a brick gateway facing the direction of the sea. It was successively under Assyrian rule in the 9th century BC and a Phoenician town under Persian rule between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. Following the death of Alexander the Great the area around Acre was first ruled by the Hellenistic Ptolemid dynasty of Egypt and then the Seleucids of Syria. The present city, founded on the peninsula in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC, was named Antiocha Ptolemais after its founder, Ptolemy II of Egypt. Acre was a centre for international trade because of its strategic position and its natural port. The city fell to the Romans in 63 BC and was granted the status of colonia . In 330, during the Byzantine period, this region passed into the control of the Roman Empire. During the early Arab period (638-1099) many cities were abandoned and destroyed: Acre decreased in importance as an international port. The city began its economic recovery during the 10th and 11th centuries and the port and city walls were rebuilt.

The Crusader period began for Acre in 1104, following the successful siege by Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, and the Genoese commercial fleet. The king settled in the northern part of the city, where he built a fortified palace. Genoese, Venetian, and Pisan merchants built autonomous quarters nearby the port. The military orders installed themselves nearby. During the two centuries of Crusader rule Acre symbolized the interchange between the eastern and western cultures better than any other city. In 1187 the Muslims captured the whole of the Crusader lands and Acre was held for four years. It was not until 1191 that the Third Crusade led by Richard the Lion-heart led to the recapture of Acre and the adjoining coastal regions. A second Crusader kingdom was established with Acre as its capital, as the Crusaders were unable to retake Jerusalem. New neighbourhoods such as Monmizar to the north were built and Acre was given a new double city wall. More palaces, churches, and public buildings were erected, at a time when styles in the west were changing from Romanesque to Gothic.

The Mameluke period began in 1291 with the conquest of Acre and continued until 1517. Acre came within the mamluka of Gaza. The city was destroyed and totally abandoned, with only a few buildings remaining around the port. During the Ottoman period (1517-1917) Acre was a deserted ghost town. Reconstruction did not begin until the mid-18th century, under Daher El Amar, who renewed the port, manned it with officials and merchants, built a palace for himself, and rebuilt the fortifications. Acre enjoyed renewed economic expansion in the 19th century. Mosques, bathhouses, and caravanserai were built. Wealthy merchants settled there, building grand mansions in the eastern neoclassical style of the end of the 19th century. After capturing Acre in 1918 and being given control of Palestine by mandate of the League of Nations, the British developed the city outside the boundaries of the walls, constructing dwellings and administrative buildings. The port fell into disuse as the nearby modern port of Haifa superseded it. After Israel's independence in May 1948 only a few Muslim residents remained in the old city, but after the fighting had died down many Palestinian Arab refugees from other places began to arrive and settle in the old city, whereas many Jews settled in the new sections.

What remains today is a remarkable mixture, both above and below ground, of cultural elements from every period of Acre's eventful history between the 11th and 20th centuries.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Ancient Acre was situated on Tel Akko (or Tel El Fukhar), about 2.5km to the east of the location of the old city. Settlement at the tell appears to have began during the Early Bronze Age (c 3000 BCE). Around 1900 BCE the town was fortified by a high earthen rampart with a brick gateway facing the direction of the sea. When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan Akko was one of the cities allotted to the tribe of Asher. In the centuries that followed it was under Assyrian rule in the 9th century BCE and between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE it was a Phoenician town under Persian rule. Following the conquest of the entire region by Alexander the Great and his early death, the area around Acre was first ruled by the Hellenistic Ptolemid dynasty of Egypt and then the Seleucids of Syria.

The present city was founded on the peninsula in the earlier period (3rd-2nd centuries BCE) and named Antiocha Ptolemais after its founder, Ptolemy II of Egypt. There are still traces of fortifications, a wall, and tower from this period. Acre was a centre for international trade because of its strategic position and its natural port. After a short period as part of the Jewish Hasmonaean kingdom in the 1st century BCE the city fell to the Romans in 63 BCE and became part of the province of Syria; it was granted the status of colonia. The first Christian pilgrims passed through Acre on their way to Jerusalem. In 330, during the Byzantine period, this region passed into the control of the Roman Empire. This was a time of economic and demographic expansion, when hundreds of churches and monasteries were established all over the Holy Land. The larger cities expanded and were encircled by new fortification systems; Acre retained its status as the principal port of the region.

During the early Arab period (638-1099), when the city, which reverted to its original name, Akko, formed part of the Caliphate of Cairo, many of the country's cities were abandoned and destroyed. Acre decreased in importance as an international port and the city limits were reduced to include several quarters around the port, where a Moslem naval fleet was stationed. Acre began its economic recovery during the 10th and 11th centuries and the port and city walls were rebuilt.

The Crusader period began for Acre in 1104, some five years after the fall of Jerusalem. Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, and the Genoese commercial fleet cooperated in laying siege to Acre from land and sea until the city fell to the Crusaders. A new and special model of settlement evolved, characterized by defined and autonomous quarters. The king settled in the northern part of the city, where he built a fortified palace. Genoese, Venetian, and Pisan merchants built autonomous quarters nearby the port. The military orders installed themselves nearby - the Hospitallers in the north of the city to the west of the palace, the Templars in the south-west of the city, and the German Knights close to the eastern wall of the wall. Other important quarters included those of the Patriarch (in which the Church of the Holy Cross, Acre's main cathedral, was built), the French merchants (the Provençal quarter), and the English merchants. Moslem and Jewish merchants also settled in the city.

Many public buildings were erected - fortified buildings, churches, bathhouses, bakeries, courts and hostels for pilgrims and merchants, covered markets - and also private dwellings. During the two centuries of Crusader rule Acre developed into a wealthy and thriving trading city. It symbolized the interchange between the eastern and western cultures better than any other city.

In 1187, after the debacle at Hattin and the destruction of the Crusader army, the Moslems captured the whole of the Crusader lands and Acre was held for four years. It was not until 1191 that the Third Crusade led by Richard the Lion Heart led to the recapture of Acre and the adjoining coastal regions. A second Crusader kingdom was established with Acre as its capital, since the Crusaders were not able to retake Jerusalem.

From 1191 to 1291 the second Crusader Kingdom expanded its borders. New neighbourhoods such as Monmizar to the north were built and Acre was given a new double city wall. More palaces, churches, and public buildings were erected, at a time when styles in the west were changing from Romanesque to Gothic. This change in style was put into practice in Acre and recent excavations have revealed buildings that reflect the transition between styles and the initial establishment of the Gothic style in the 13th century.

The Mameluke period (named after the Moslem rulers of Egypt) began in 1291 with the conquest of Acre and continued until 1517. Acre came within the mamluka of Gaza. The city was destroyed and totally abandoned, with only a few buildings remaining around the port.

During the Ottoman period (1517-1917) Acre was described by pilgrims and merchants who visited it in the 16th and 17th centuries as a deserted ghost town, with some structures from the Crusader period still standing, some jutting out of the earth, and others buried. Reconstruction did not begin until the middle of the 18th century, under Daher El Amar, who renewed the port, manned it with officials and merchants, built a palace for himself, and rebuilt the fortifications.

The building of Ottoman Acre in the 18th and 19th centuries buried the remains of the Crusader city, thereby preserving the Crusader remains. In 1799 Acre attained world fame after Napoleon failed to capture the city, under the command of its Turkish ruler Ahmed El-Jazar, after a long siege.

Acres enjoyed renewed economic expansion in the 19th century. Mosques, bathhouses, and caravanserai were built. Wealthy merchants settled there, building grand mansions in the eastern Neo-Classical style of the end of the 19th century.

In 1868 Baha'ullah, founder of the Baha'i faith, arrived in Acre as a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. He spent the remaining 24 years of his life in the city, first imprisoned in the city's fortress and later under house arrest in a small building in the alleyways of the old city. During his sojourn in Acre, the Baha'ullah wrote his most important work, setting out the laws and precepts to be observed by Baha'i adherents. The Baha'ullah was freed towards the end of 1870 and went to live on a nearby estate outside the walls of the city. He died in 1892, his remains were buried on the estate, and to this day his tomb is the holiest shrine of the Baha'i.

After capturing Acre in 1918 and being given control of Palestine by mandate of the League of Nations, the British used the fortress as a prison. Several leading Jewish settlers were imprisoned there, and hangings also took place. The British developed the city outside the boundaries of the walls, constructing dwellings and administrative buildings. However, they did nothing to alter the fabric of life within the walls of the old city. The port fell into disuse as the nearby modern port of Haifa superseded it.

After Israel's independence in May 1948 only a few Moslem residents remained in the old city, but after the fighting had died down many Palestinian Arab refugees from other places began to arrive and settle in the old city, whilst many Jews settled in the new sections. At the present time the five thousand inhabitants of the walled city are exclusively Arab and some 80% are migrants from other parts of Israel.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation