Akko (Acre)

The ancient seaport of Akko (about a half-hour drive from Haifa) is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. The first recorded mention of Akko dates back to the reign of the pharaoh Thumtose III, who ruled from 1504 to 1450 BCE. Since then, Akko has been captured several times and has been placed under the leadership of many empires and countries. The Assyrians captured Akko in circa 700 BCE. In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great annexed the city into his empire. Not too long afterward, Ptolemy of Egypt captured Akko, changing the city's name to Ptolemais, a name it retained until the Middle Ages. Following the period of Egyptian rule, Akko (Ptolemais) became a Roman colony.

In 395 CE, the Roman Empire was divided up; the city of Akko became part of the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire. In the year 638, Akko was captured by the Arabs. It remained under Arab rule until 1104, when it was captured by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem. However, only 83 years later, Saladin - the sultan of Egypt and Syria - captured the city. But Arab rule in Akko was short-lived: the Europeans recaptured Akko during the Third Crusade. It was during the Crusades that the famous walls that surround Akko were built.

In the thirteenth century, the Saracens sieged Akko, finally capturing it in 1291. The Ottoman Empire (the Turks) took control of the city in 1517, retaining it for almost four centuries. This is not to say that Ottoman rule went unchallenged. Probably one of the most famous generals who fought in the city during this period was the great Napoleon Bonaparte.

Hoping to duplicate the successes of Alexander the Great, Napoleon set out to conquer the Middle East and the Far East, beginning with Egypt. In July 1798, Napoleon's army won the Battle of the Pyramids. However, his fleet was soon destroyed by the British at the Battle of the Nile, at Aboukir Bay. Lacking in reinforcements, Napoleon decided to invade Syria, but he was stopped at Akko, where a joint force consisting of British and Turkish troops successfully held him off, forcing him to return to Egypt and ultimately to France.

In 1918, the British captured Akko and made it part of the British mandate in Palestine. (For more information about the British mandate, see "The Arab-Israel Conflict Prior to the State of Israel’s Establishment.") Thirty years later, in 1948, the Israeli army captured Akko. The following year, the city was incorporated into the modern State of Israel.

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