Get lost in the sights, sounds and smells of our authentic markets
Market Street is the Old City’s main route running from north to south. During the Crusader Period, this street led from the Hospitallers Gate in the north along the market route – or through Kings Way (“Via Regis”), all the way to the port. There are several more markets in Old Akko: The White Market and the Turkish Bazaar
The Turkish Bazaar
Akko was completely deserted for a period of 450 years, ever since 1291 when the Crusaders were banished from the city. Following this period, a new city was built on top of the remains of the Crusader City. The building project was initiated by Bedouin ruler Daher el-Omar (1750-1775), who established an independent kingdom in the Galilee and made Akko its capital. He renovated the city walls, cleaned the port and built his private palace in the city.
In 1775, the City of Akko was besieged by an Egyptian Ottoman officer by the name of Ahmed al-Jazzar, who executed Daher el-Omar as a rebel against the Ottoman regime. Ahmed al-Jazzar pursued Daher el-Omar’s endeavor and established Akko as the main commercial city of the entire region. It was during this period that numerous mosques, bathhouses (hamams), khans and bazaars were built to serve the city’s citizens.
The Turkish Bazaar was built in the late 18th century as a municipal market serving the local population. The market was deserted in 1948 when the Old City was captured by the IDF and recently opened as craft and miniature art bazaar. The bazaar now features small shops specializing in the sale of souvenirs and tourist artifacts.
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 Akko 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 Akko and northern Israel. One of the last detailed descriptions of the old market is that of learned Englishman James Silk Buckingham who visited Akko 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 Akko’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 Akko 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 been undertaken and numerous shops have been converted into snack and beverage bars.
Market Street is the Old City’s main route running from north to south. During the Crusader Period, this street led from the Hospitallers Gate in the north along the market route – or through Kings Way (“Via Regis”) – all the way to the port.
Nowadays this route accommodates Old Akko’s main market – a colorful range of stalls displaying fish, sweet oriental pastries as well as shops selling perfume and original spices.
The market has undergone a restoration process, which includes the inner renovation of the shops, their facades, and the market route.
There are two Jewish landmarks at the southern end of the market: Chaim Farhi’s Home and the Ramchal Synagogue.