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Introducing Akko (Acre)

Don’t make Akko the first place you visit in Israel. After visiting this wonderfully preserved city of stone all the historic settlements scattered across Israel will appear rather ho-hum. Akko, sited on a narrow spit of land that pokes into the sea, seduces visitors with its narrow alleys, slender minarets, secret passageways, subterranean vaults and impressive ramparts. But while other historic towns in Israel are busy packaging their heritage for the benefit of tourists, Akko has taken a more modest approach, leaving its homes for families, not artists, and its souq (market) for fishers, not souvenir hawkers.

Akko is the Acre of the Crusaders, and as the capital and port of the Latinate Kingdom of Palestine, it received ships from Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice. St Francis of Assisi and Marco Polo were among the guests in the knights’ dining halls. Things haven’t changed much since then and the modern visitor can get a real sense of Akko’s history by wandering its streets. Accommodation is sadly lacking and most visitors just come for the day, which is a shame as Akko is at its most romantic by moonlight.