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The Wall of Acre

Visiting the Wall of Akko

The walls surround part of the Old City of Akko. It is a public area that is always open.

The history of the Wall of Akko

The siege of Napoleon was the last chapter in a very interesting and strange saga in the history of the Land of Israel. Napoleon journeyed to Egypt and for reasons that are unclear started a military campaign along the coast of the Land of Israel. He might have been hoping to conquer his way back to Europe after the British navy destroyed most of his fleet. In Jaffa the French soldiers committed a terrible massacre, and Haifa fell without a battle. Apparently, Al Gazzar, the ruler of Acre, didn’t have a chance against the great Napoleon, but two ancient factors were on his side – geography and the understanding that my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

The Walls of Acre

The siege that Napoleon imposed on Acre in March 1799 wasn’t effective because the city is surrounded on three sides by the sea. The British navy carried supplies to Acre, and the ships that carried Napoleon’s canons fell into British hands. 

This turned the tables, and the French soldiers were now the ones lacking supplies. Fighting alongside Al Gazzar and the British navy was Antoine de Phelippeaux, a French officer that studied with Napoleon at the military academy. 

After the French Revolution they found themselves on different sides, as Napoleon supported the revolution and de Phlippeaux the monarchy. De Phlippeaux was the one that encouraged Al Gazzar not to surrender during the siege. Napoleon solders attacked seven times, and in the last attack they managed to break the wall and stormed into the city. But here they encountered an inner wall and were slaughtered between the walls. On May 21, after a siege of nine weeks, Napoleon gave up and made his way back to Egypt and from there to France, leaving many of his solders behind.

This campaign was supposedly short and had no significance. After returning to France, Napoleon led many other well-known military campaigns, which brought him, for example, deep into Russia. And yet at the end of his life, in exile on St. Helena, he wrote that if Acre had fallen that he would have changed the course of the world and that the destiny of the East was determined in this small town.

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