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Crusader fortress in Akko

A kko is a port city in Western Galilee on the Mediterranean coast, in northern Israel. The old town is famous for the crusader fortress. In the 12th century, Akko was the main Crusader port and the second largest city in the Holy Land.

For us Lost Placers, the most interesting is the old citadel. Most of the 40 meter high citadel was built in the late 18th century under Pasha Ahmed Jezzar. A special attraction is located below the citadel. The underground facilities of the former Johanniter fortress are still preserved here. Like the Templars and the Teutonic Order, the Johanniter were a crusader order. All three orders were present in Akko with knights and their own fortifications. The Hospitallers (self-named after John the Baptist) were also called Hospitallers. This referred to their efforts to care for the sick and injured (initially among the pilgrims and other crusaders) and to take them into their rooms. Her clothing was a simple monk's habit. The fighting knights had a white cross on a red background as a shield coat of arms.

Like the other fortresses from the time of the Crusaders, the Johanniterburg was destroyed after the conquest by the Mameluks in 1291. Remnants were leveled during the construction of the Ottoman citadel and the last underground passages were completely filled in to serve as a solid foundation for the new building.

Today parts of the dark underground passages, vaults, halls and chambers have been dug up again and can be walked on. They give an impression of the excellent architecture of the Middle Ages. The facilities are prepared for tourism with accessible paths and adequate lighting. Seven narrow knight halls have been excavated in the north of the underground facilities. This is followed by corridors and a so-called “Grand Munir”, which is probably a large commercial, storage and administration hall. A large dining or ceremony room branches off from there, the cross vaults of which are supported by three mighty round pillars. A narrow corridor leads to the so-called "Bosta", which is the remains of a medieval caravanserai that was later integrated into the Johanniter fortress.

The fortress was used as a prison during the Ottoman and British Mandate rule. The inmates also included supporters of the Jewish independence movement.

Templar tunnel


The highlight for me was the 350 meter long Templar tunnel. It led from their fortress in the west of the city through the earth under the neighborhood of Italian traders to the port on the east side of the headland of Akko. Its purpose was clear: the Templars had recognized that in the event of a siege they could easily be separated from their ships in the harbor and thus prevented from the last possible escape across the sea. To prevent this, the barrel-vaulted tunnel was dug. The discovery of the tunnel in 1994 was an archaeological and architectural sensation. Today the tunnel is electrically lit and provided with a wooden walkway.

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