The White Market (Suq Al-Abiad)

The White Market (Suq Al-Abiad)

 

The White Market, which is located adjacent to and slightly east of el-Jazzar Mosque, was built by Suleiman Pasha toward the end of his term of office as Governor of Acre. Up until then, this was the site of a much larger market built by Daher el-Omar that was called "Daher Market". According to Suleiman Pasha's biographer – Ibrahim Al-Ouda – the old market had 110 shops and was surely the commercial center of Acre and northern Israel. One of the last detailed descriptions of the old market is that of learned Englishman John Silk Buckingham who visited Acre in 1816.
 
One year later, a fire broke out in "Atzlan the Jew's" shop. Workers who were enjoying an afternoon hookah smoke in the shop were careless and a spark flew on several barrels filled with gunpowder, which were being displayed for sale at the time. The powerful explosion caused Atzlan to fly "twenty cubits from the shop like a lump of coal". About ten people were killed and injured in this tragedy, the building itself was severely damaged and the fire that spread through the entire market caused heavy damages. During that same year, Suleiman gave orders to destroy all remains of the market and to build a new market in its stead, which is still standing to this day.
 
The market's walls and its sixty-four shops were whitewashed at the time they were built, hence the market's name. The White Market is also filled with light and perhaps that is why the attribute is often used by Acre's inhabitants to this very day. During Ibrahim Pasha's bombardment in 1831-32, this site – among others – was damaged. This site is considered to be one of Israel's largest building enterprises of the early 19th century and was even compared to the Damascus market by one of the travelers at the time.
 
The photographs depicting the end of the Ottoman Period show that the White Market – similarly to the Daher market that preceded it – was Acre's main commercial center. The White Market's importance lessened when additional routes to areas beyond the walls were created at the beginning of the British Mandate; those entering Acre through the city's only land entrance gate were no longer forced to cross the path leading to the White Market. Certain shops now serve as warehouses and the market's commercial activity has waned. Nowadays, its white color is in name only and based on a plaque in the market's western corner, Daher el-Omar is mistakenly credited with building the market.
Renovations have recently begun and numerous shops have been converted into snack and beverage bars.

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