Like many other cities in Israel, Acre (Akko) looks back on thousands of years of history. As a port city, Acre was the northern gate to Israel and therefore knew many wars and many different rulers. Two historical periods shaped the city more than others – the Crusader Era and the Ottoman Empire.
In Acre there are more sights from the Crusader Era then in any other place in Israel, and for a good reason – although the official name of the Crusaders’ dominion was the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, for 100 of the 200 years that the Crusaders’ state existed, Acre was the capital since the Crusaders lost Jerusalem to the Muslim sultan Saladin. After they lost Acre to the Mamluks, a Muslim dynasty from Egypt, the city was destroyed. Local governors in the Ottoman era rebuilt the city on top of the Crusaders’ former city and so there are two cities on top of one another – the Crusaders’ underground ruins and the Ottoman-built city of today. The decisive moment for the Ottoman city came in 1799 when Napoleon put it under siege, but Acre eventually declined not because of a war but because of competition. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the port of Haifa was developed and grew to become the main port city in northern Israel. The port of Acre, whose importance had been second only to Jaffa, became irrelevant. But unlike the port in Haifa that cuts the city off from the sea, the Old City of Acre is still a residential district and a somewhat untidy and neglected tourist sight.
Acre is a half-day destination; at night there is not much to do in the Old City. With that said, there are a number of accommodation options.