Ancient Akko’s Crusader Fortress

This week we will detour from the Jerusalem streets, and look at the streets of Akko, where we recently visited.

Akko/Acre is a port city on the Mediterranean coast in northwest Israel, known for its well-preserved old city walls. The settlement in Tel Akko began as far back as the twentieth-century BCE.

Jonathan the King of the Hasmoneans conquered Akko in 150 BCE.

Akko was a link in the international trade chain with…a long history.

Old Akko was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. The area has fascinating tourist spots and great potential.

Akko was already a fortified city at the beginning of the 12th century when the First Crusade of 1095-1099 was declared a success.

1191 – King Richard I, or Richard the Lionhearted, recaptured the city in the Third Crusade. The Crusaders built a huge fortress in Akko, and you can go on the Kingdom of the Knights tour in the ancient fortress.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Maalot-026-2-1024x697.jpg

A model in the inner courtyard shows the size of the structure complex.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Maalot-028-2-1024x630.jpg

Around the area, some of the ancient stone relics found in the area are on display.

Relics of ancient history are on exhibit outside the main entrance.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Maalot-021-2-1024x924.jpg

It is best to enter and get the audio headset for a self-guided tour inside.

Artifacts from the Hellenistic and Roman periods that have been found beneath the floor of the Crusader hall are on display.

Along the walking tour, one can stop and listen to explanations at dozens of numbered spots.

Akko served as the main port of the Crusader kingdom, the heart of its commercial activity, and its administrative center.

The historical importance of scribes is featured at one location.

The walls are lined with colorful murals and informative context.

The vast arches and columns are now lit up along the winding corridors.

The arches were crafted in the shapes of the hulls of the wooden boats that arrived at the port, a style similar to Old Jerusalem.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Akko-046-1024x768.jpg

Dishware found under the floors, that was used by the Crusader Knights is on exhibit.

The ancient fortress is now used as a modern museum.

The Crusader hall was a great spot to stop. The Crusaders lost their hold on the kingdom some 50 years before the fall of Akko.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Akko-053-2-1024x756.jpg

A new power arose from Egypt: the Mamluks. By stopping the Mongolian invasion, the Mamluks began consolidating their rule in the area.

They built magnificent mosques, schools for the study of Islam (madrassas), and inns for their pilgrims.

They left Akko desolate, like the other coastal cities. Ahmad Pasha was known as ‘al-Jazzar’ (the butcher) because of his intense cruelty.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Akko-050-2-1024x766.jpg

The reconstruction of the city in the 17th century began when Fakhr-al-Din came to power.

Daher al-Omar 1745-1775, is long gone. What he would think about Akko today?

Now there is a restaurant called ROOTS outside the fortress entrance.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Maalot-012-1024x678.jpg

A kosher restaurant is located next to the old Crusader Fortress.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is North-Meron-Maalot-058-2-1024x713.jpg

The Kingdom of the Knights reveals the secrets of Acre in the Crusader Fortress.

Even if the weather is too hot or cold outside, an interesting view of history can be found inside the ancient old stone walls.

Jerusalem in Autumn Colors

While I miss the colorful autumn leaves from the North Eastern United States, it was a very colorful week in Jerusalem.

Different colors, such as the colorful wedding we attended to start the week.

Occasionally an interesting leaf appears on a Jerusalem street.

But it was the bright yellow of the blooming flowers

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Beit-Hanasi-election-005-2-1024x739.jpg

and newly planted Jerusalem flower beds that really got my attention.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Silo-025-2-1024x685.jpg

Under a bright blue sky with white clouds, Jerusalem was full of color.

The Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor was awarded to President Nicos Anastasiades of the Republic of Cyprus at Beit Hanasi by President Herzog.

During the ceremony, the colorful flowers outside the window distracted me and caught my attention.

But I put together a short video if you want to see more of the event.

Not only are there new colors in the smaller receiving room,

but new colorful Jerusalem artwork is displayed on the walls.

A few hours after the Medal of Honor ceremony the furniture was rearranged in order to receive the representatives of the political parties to recommend a candidate to form the new government.

As in the recent past, the President’s discussions were broadcast live.

The procedure began with Likud, the party with the most votes.

The media has the same view on screens from a reception space off the main room, however, I decided to go to see what was happening.

Here a TV news person reported in Arabic as the Noam party finished their turn with a recommendation to the President.

I waited to see the United Arab List (Ra’am) delegation comprising Mansour Abbas MK, Yasser Hajirat MK-elect, and Iman Khatib-Yasin MK arrive on the red carpet to tell the President they would not make a recommendation.

I did not stay around to see if they made a comment after or were followed out by journalists for comment as I saw for the Noam members.

The media was out in full when President Isaac Herzog assigned the task of forming a government to Benjamin Netanyahu MK at the President’s Residence today. So glad I got a front-row seat and was not standing on a chair in the back of the crowded room.

But more was happening this week than election news.

How appropriate that a book launch for “A Banker’s Journey: How Edmond J. Safra built a global financial empire” was held at the Israel Museum.

The Museum Theater where author Daniel Gross spoke with journalist Matti Friedman was next to the Edmond and Lily Safra Art Wing.

Colorful posters line some Jerusalem streets announcing events and festivals, like the Tower of David’s ZEROline II 1/2 on November 11-13.

Then there is the Israel Music Showcase Festival on November 22-27 and more, such as The Train Theater conference to begin on International Children’s Day on November 20, entitled, “How a child writes.”

Just when I thought I had finally found a place to enjoy a bit of fall color,

further down the path were big blue signs blocking the way.

Oh, the Jerusalem streets! Fix them and then tear them up again?

But to end with one piece of good construction news,

New tunnel on Route 60 to Gush Etzion

remember the Summer street scenes of the tunnel to Gush Etzion?

It was reported that one of the new tunnels is ready to open this week.

Perhaps some of the traffic backed up coming off of new Route #16 we ease up with the traffic flowing better out of Jerusalem.

It has mostly been warm during the day, so the leaves in Liberty Bell Park are still full and green. Love the Jerusalem colors as winter approaches.

It may not feel like it, but it’s time to plan for Hanukah, only 5 weeks away!

New this year is a Hanukkah tour of Nachlaot starting with donuts.

Or for those interested in a Jerusalem walking tour without the calories to see the colors of the real Jerusalem streets and lights check HERE

Jerusalem in November: More than Elections

At the beginning of November when the clocks changed it was dark so early that 7:00 pm felt like midnight in Jerusalem, Israel.

But the long dark nights are good for noticing the new spots where lights have been added, like here on the top of Mishkanot HaSha’ananim with the Montefiore Windmill in the distance.

The work on France Square and Paris Fountain resumed as new sod was brought and placed instead of the fake grass.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lisa-020-2-1024x706.jpg

Work went well after dark to complete the landscaping.

Signs on a temporary barrier warned people to keep off the real grass.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Beit-Hanasi-Climate-047-1024x768.jpg

As construction fences come down more new buildings are visible.

The election for the 25th Knesset took over this week’s news and headlines, with commentators around the world projecting opinions.

The boxes of the low-tech paper slips with letters from the various parties were kept filled so as not to reveal what party was more popular.

But in our neighborhood, the letter ל – lamed – filled the streets. Election Day was a public holiday and student drivers were out in droves for lessons.

My first time voting in a new location and I thought that these steps were cute with colors and names in English. However, on closer look when I got home, I noticed that it was “ORENGE” instead of orange.

But more happened this week in Jerusalem than just the elections.

Aliyah Day was overshadowed by the elections, good thing there is another chance to celebrate Olim in the spring on yud Nissan.

The Zalman Shazar Prize for Jewish History was awarded at Beit Hanasi.

The award recipients sat in the front row with President and Michal Herzog in the President’s Residence main reception room.

Chili Tropper spoke at the event, perhaps for the last time with the expected changes of government, as Minister of Culture and Sports.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Fountain-signs-011-2-1024x644.jpg

Yesh Atid, but what the future will be for Yair Lapid and his administration is unknown.

Also, this week at Beit Hanasi, was an event hosted by the President for the Israeli delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, which he will head this week in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Significantly, a woman working for better Bedouin living conditions was included in the program along with government ministers.

I missed the photo op outside of the President with tech leaders, as the door to the smaller diplomatic room was open for the first time in weeks. Renovations were completed and the room has a new look in shades of blue, with new furniture and upholstery in the special seating areas.

Looking back at the yellow decor of the past, I found one of the first photos I took in this room almost 10 years ago.

Almost time for new Chief Rabbis–those who are saying that five elections in under four years were enough, should get ready for more elections when 2023 comes around.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Beit-Hanasi-Shazar-Prize-039-3-1024x615.jpg

People come and go, however, one constant in Jerusalem at Beit Hanasi, is the Presidential Cat, but even he was up a tree this past week.

The Jerusalem International Animation Festival, the Einstein Festival, and more new signs are along the Jerusalem streets for November events.

On November 9th, for the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Walter Bingham is to be honored near Jaffa Gate with his image projected on the walls during the Jerusalem commemoration. Walter is the oldest working journalist and is busy planning for his 99th birthday in a few weeks.

If you don’t know his story, Google it, it’s a great one, but way too long for now.

November 23-26 is time for the 10th Piano Festival at the Jerusalem Theater.

The new Jerusalem signs are up to warn to prepare for the winter weather.

In Jerusalem in November, winter is approaching with long dark nights. But it also means the vivid colors of the flowers lining the Jerusalem streets are out during the daylight hours.

Come and see for yourself, on a Jerusalem Photo Walk, what’s really happening on Jerusalem streets.