In Biblical times, Akko, north of Haifa, was a major port in what is now the land of Israel. The Hebrews did not consider it part of ancient Israel.
Akko is one of the world's oldest known seaports, thought by archaeologists to be at least 4000 years old. In its heyday, only Alexandria and Constantinople exceeded its volume of commerce. It overshadowed the great city of Tyre, several miles to the north.
Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar laid the first stones here in the world's first paved road, from Akko to Antioch. It was known as the Via Maris, or way of the sea. The Romans conquered Akko in 48 B.C. and it enjoyed 500 years of relative peace under Roman rule.
Akko was a Crusader capital in the Middle Ages. The Crusaders conquered it in 1104 and held it for 200 years. It was surrendered without a battle in 1187 to the Muslim conqueror Saladin, after which the Crusaders besieged it for two years in an attempt to win it back. Richard the Lion-Hearted's arrival with an army led to victory. This siege and conquest has been described as "one of the most fascinating dramas in the history of war."
Beneath the modern-day city of Akko is an underground Crusader city. The buildings were filled with rubble by Muslim conquerers, who constructed a new city on top. The old Crusader structures are now being excavated, but archaeologists must be very careful so the roof doesn't collapse from the weight of the city on top. We even found a secret tunnel designed for escape and explored it!
Napoleon besieged Akko in 1799 but was unsuccessful. He later claimed that had he conquered it "the world would have been mine."
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Source: www.SusanCAnthony.com, ©Susan C. Anthony