WHAT TO SEE IN THE RENOVATED KNIGHT'S HALLS IN AKKO?
An amazing new place in the heart of the old city, the renovated knights halls in Akko is the latest project of Akko municipality that brings back the history to the front scene again.
WHERE IS AKKO - THE CITY OF THE CRUSADERS?
Akko is a historic city in Israel located in the Western Galilee on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Having got to the old Akko for the first time, it is very difficult to understand what is Turkish here, and what is left of the times of the Crusaders - the East puts a lot of pressure on the tourist.
We can safely assume that the old city in Akko was built over the destroyed buildings of the 12-13th century. For the construction of residential and public buildings, mosques, Arab builders of the 18-20th centuries used blocks of local sandstone, processed by medieval stonemasons.
WHAT IS THE CORRECT NAME OF THE KNIGHT'S HALLS IN AKKO?
A glimpse into the realities of the Middle Ages allows the archaeological complex, which we still continue to call the "Knights' Halls", although it would be more correct to call it the "Quarter of the Knights of the Order of St. John the Baptist" in Akko.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Israeli archaeologists conducted grandiose excavations here and uncovered a whole complex of residential, economic, and church buildings of the 12th and 13th centuries belonging to the Order of St. John. The restoration, reconstruction, and museumification of the archaeological complex were carried out.
The old city in Akko is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
THE KNIGHTS HALLS IN AKKO COMPLEX LAYOUT
The layout of the complex is not bad and very well stands in the courtyard, over which hangs the heavy building of the shed - the Turkish administration and the prison, built in the 18th century over the medieval complex of buildings of the Ioannides.
It is clearly seen how the cultural layer has risen over the centuries. Medieval people did not live in basements, on the contrary, they built high foundations, podiums, fearing flooding of the city with seawater. Even then, people had the experience of dealing with the sea element, remember the Lowlands, from which the modern state of the Netherlands has grown today!
The model allows you to see the height of the walls and ceilings, the shape of the roofs and towers - everything that was destroyed by the Muslims who seized Acre in 1291 and seemed to be lost forever.
Medieval craftsmen built very reliably, therefore, despite all the destruction, some of the lower tiers and basements of the huge halls have survived to this day and have been excavated by archaeologists, for example - the so-called Magnificent Hall - you can see it in our walk through this museum - is perfectly preserved, including not only walls, but also arched vaults, and narrow window openings, and stone carvings.
The layout allows you to see the Hospitaller quarter and the surrounding area in medieval Acre, including a church with a hint of a bell tower, which must have existed.
I am very confused by the definition of the first hall, into which we go down, as the premises where the guilty hospitals were serving their sentences!
There are no windows in the room, it is located below the floor mark, forged hooks were found - maybe there were some warehouse or utility rooms here? Why prison? However, archaeologists know better.
Indeed, in the Middle Ages and later in such fortresses were held prisoners and tortured dissidents and criminals.
In Akko, there was a prison at this place much later, first Turkish, and then British, where the fighters of the Jewish underground were sitting.
WHAT CAN YOU SEE IN THE KNIGHTS' HALLS OF AKKO?
What were the people of the 13th century doing in these huge tall stone halls? Not all of them were knights, most of the inhabitants were engaged in numerous chores, many were artisans and served the needs of the order, in the season they were engaged in the production of sugar, which was then sent to Europe with Italian merchants.
The Order of the Hospitaller Joanites is known for receiving and protecting Christian pilgrims, treating the sick and wounded.
Without a doubt, the most beautiful hall is the refectory, the brethren dined here, and today there are tables for modern lunches and dinners.
And yet, somewhere here, in a shelter from evil people and robbers, there should have been horses, the main vehicle of those times, and exotic camels and donkeys.
The fortress must have had numerous storage facilities. Security. All this filled the “knights' halls” that we visit see today.
WHAT'S LEFT OF ST. JOHN'S CATHEDRAL IN SAINT JEAN DE ACRE?
The Hospitallers are a Catholic paramilitary order approved by the Pope. Monks lived here, Christian customs and holidays were sacredly observed. What Christian artifacts have survived from those times?
Medieval chronicles tell us that the victors of the crusaders destroyed churches and any traces of Christianity especially ruthlessly.
The crypt and broken marble gravestones of the 13th century have survived from the huge Cathedral of St. John, one of the masters of the order was buried under one, the other refers to the burial of the bishop of Nazareth.
We must pay tribute to the creators of the museum - the audiovisual display of the farewell to the deceased is very impressive!
It is important to understand that we are in this case under the altar of a 13th-century three-nave church, which was without any doubt the centerpiece of the Hospitaller complex in Acre. The parishioners of the church were not only the inhabitants of the Hospitaller fortress but also many residents of the city, which at that time was called Saint Jean de Acre.
Visiting the knight's halls in Akko is a very good idea, there are so many renovated models, shops, games from the 12th century and it may be a little difficult to digest all the information. in that case, I offer to book a private Israeli tour guide to Akko and the surroundings to understand the history on the best side.