During our recent Passover vacation we had the chance to spend an afternoon in the historic old city of Akko, located on the Mediterranean Sea in Northern Israel, and full of great architecture and interesting details from long ago. So feel like doing a little armchair traveling? Come along my friend.......
The city is characterized by its fortress like walls, which once helped protect it from invaders. The original wall itself was built by the crusaders who captured the city around 1100, though the city changed hands many times, as it was a very desirable location for rulers from any location due to its deep port and central location on the Mediterranean.
A truly gorgeous example of an old home (palace?) meticulously maintained and a vision of the past....
More typical stone buildings that fill the old city.
A lovely yellow door and matching iron work.
A fun boat ride out in the harbor is a must for getting a nice view of the walled city.
Majestic palm trees, and a nicely restored building.
Imagine walking through the maze of old city alleys, with no idea where you're going or where you are,
and wow, coming upon this amazing example of Ottoman period architecture, that you knew nothing about! The Khan al Umdan ("Caravansary of the Pillars") is the largest and best preserved khan in Israel, constructed during the Ottoman Era in 1784. A khan is a caravansary, a roadside inn for travelers, almost always constructed with an open courtyard in the middle.
Khan al-Umdan has throughout its history been an important trading spot due to its proximity to the port. Merchants arriving in Akko used the khan as a warehouse, while the second floor functioned as a hostel. Caravans of camels once brought produce and grain from villages in the Galil to the city's markets and port, and the camels were given water from the fountain in the center.
In 1906 a clock tower was added adjacent to the main entrance to the khan to commemorate the silver jubilee of the rule of one of the Ottoman sultans. Now I have to say, I grew up in a country where our history is George Washington, so honestly this history involving sultans and crusaders is a bit hard for me to grasp!
Amazing to think of all the things that occurred in this very spot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.....
Beautiful white walls and painted shutters, my favorite, ahhh.......
And a dip in the sea, the perfect finish for a warm spring day. And to top off the lovely afternoon, the shore was lined with shells, so mom was super happy too.