Acre, also known as Acco or Akko (or Ptolemais by the Greeks), is located on the northern end of Haifa Bay in northern Israel. This port city has a long history behind it. In the 13th century, the Crusaders made it the centerpiece of their efforts in the Holy Land and one of the most important commercial centers with as many as 40,000 residents. At one time or another, the city has been in Italian, Arab, British, and now (2005), Israeli hands.

Acre is sometimes mistaken for another city mentioned in the bible, but is a different place. Yet, some amazing things happened here, most notably the defeat of an attack by Napoleon in 1799. There are remnants of outer walls and within the city is a walled old city — and within that, a superb example of a Crusader Castle (under restoration) that you can visit.

The Crusader Castle has columned chambers with vaulted Gothic ceilings and long dark passages. Other sights include the Quarter of the Knight Hospitallers the ancient walls of the town (the walls were built so well that they withstood an attack by Napoleon in 1798). The 18th-century El Jazzar mosque graces Acres skyline with its green dome and minaret. Across from the mosque is the Municipal Museum (excellent archaeological exhibits) located in an 18th-century Turkish bathhouse. Other parts of the Old City show strong Arab Turkish and British influences.

Close to Acre are some pretty good beaches, especially between Acre and Haifa. Acre is 130 km north of Jerusalem and only some 20 km for Haifa.

From Tel Aviv hotel, you can visit Akko (as the plaque on the old city spells it) via a day tour (guided van) that may take you to ocean-carved caverns in north most Israel (near the Lebanese border), the immaculate B’hai gardens and temple (in the city of Haifa), and Caesarea (beautiful Roman city ruins on the Mediterranean Sea). Group tours of 10 or 20 people are very reasonably priced. Dress in shorts or light clothes and take water bottle, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and if directed by tour brochure, swim suit and towel. Camera recommended as well.

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