3000 - 1200 BCE

The Canaanite Period (Bronze Age)

Settlement in Tel Akko began in the twentieth century BCE and continued throughout this period.

The fortress on the Tel was surrounded by a rampart and was entered via a gate. Akko's inhabitants were Canaanites, who mainly maintained a coastal culture. The purple dye industry and industries associated with bronze were particularly flourishing, as was maritime trade with Lebanon, Cyprus and Egypt.

The city's importance during this period is evident from its being cited in various Egyptian and Syrian manuscripts: in the Execration texts (20th-18th centuries BCE), in the Amarna letters (14th century BCE) and in the Ugarit letters (16th-13th century BCE)

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

1200-586 BCE

The Israelite Period (Iron Age)

Akko is mentioned in the Bible as a city inhabited by Canaanites.

Akko appears within the domain of the Tribe of Asher, but it is unlikely that the tribe actually occupied it. The tribe of Asher settled among the local inhabitants, as in other cities, including Achziv, Sidon and Aphik.  During this period, residents of the Phoenician culture who settled in the cities of the eastern Mediterranean shore, also arrived in Akko.

Bronze, which was in use during the Canaanite period, was replaced with iron. Maritime trade flourished, mainly between Akko and Tyre, and commodities including grains, olive oil and wine passed through the port. Akko secured its position as a wealthy and independent city of trade.

1200 BCE – Israelite rule begins.

701 BCE - Akko served as a station on the northward journey of Sennacherib, King of Assyria.

586 BCE – Destruction of Solomon's Temple (the First Temple)

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* Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

586- 332 BCE

The Persian Period

During this period, the Phoenician influence was still apparent in construction, worship rituals and religion.

The city of Akko was almost as important as Tyre.  Life atop Tel Akko remained stable, while a new settlement developed at the foot of the Tel. At the end of the fourth century BCE, wars between the Persian Empire and Egypt became more frequent.

Akko served as a starting point for some of the Persian army's campaigns; however, the city was conquered by Egypt for a short period. A new era was dawning, which commenced with the tumultuous arrival of Alexander the Great.

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

332- 63 BCE

The Hellenistic Period

332 BCE –

Greek rule begins, Alexander the Great takes control.

Alexander the Great's conquest led to many changes in the region.

Akko's residents adopted Greek culture, Tel Akko was abandoned, and settlement began to develop in the plain to its west, stretching to the sea. A wall was built around the city, with temples and public buildings within it.

Akko became a link in the international trade chain, and its political and economic status improved.

The port was moved from the Naáman river (Belus) estuary to the peninsula.  Archaeological excavations have revealed the remains of the dock and of large structures, attesting to its impressive dimensions.

Artefacts from the Hellenistic period and from the beginning of the Roman period have been found beneath the floor of the Crusader hall, above the bedrock. These artefacts are some of the earliest ever to be excavated in this part of Akko.

261 BCE –

Ptolemy II of Egypt renames the city "Ptolemais".

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

150-37 BCE

The Hasmonean Period

The Hasmoneans, descendants of Matityahu haKohen, were a Jewish royal dynasty that ruled Israel during part of the Hellenistic period, from the 2nd century BCE to the first century BCE.

The Hasmoneans rebelled against the Seleucid rule during the Second Temple period, and subsequently appointed high priests, kings and rulers. The Hasmoneans were the ruling family in Judea from the time of Matityahu haKohen in 167 BCE until the death of the last of the Hasmonean kings, Antigonus II in 37 BCE. After the fall of the kings of the Hasmonean Dynasty, never again did an independent Jewish entity arise in the Land of Israel, except for short periods during the Great Revolt and the Bar Kokhba revolt, until the establishment of the State of Israel in the 20th century, some two thousand years after the fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty.

150 BCE - Jonathan the King of the Hasmoneans conquers Akko. 

The city, which was hostile to the Jews, now becomes a Jewish settlement.

103 BCE - Jonathan Alexander ("Yanai") of the Hasmonean Dynasty, served as king and high priest during the Second Temple period.

During his time, the Hasmonean kingdom was expanded, and many parts of northern Israel were also conquered.

103-102 BCE - Alexander Yanai besieges Akko (Ptolemais), which was an important port city, hostile to the Jews and disrupted the Hasmonean rule in the Galilee. In Cyprus, Ptolemy defeated the army of Yanai and the latter turned to the Queen of Egypt who sent her army to help defeat Ptolemy, but Akko remained outside the territory of the Hasmonean kingdom.

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

63 BCE- 324 CE

The Roman Period

Pompey, Julius Caesar and Emperor Claudius granted various privileges to the city and expanded its territory. In the middle of the first century CE, Akko was declared a Roman colony and named Colonia Claudia Ptolemais.

The port of Akko became the center of trade together with the coastal cities of the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, Italy and North Africa. For the first time, a Roman road was built from Akko to Antioch. The legions of the army marched along this road to crush the Great Jewish Revolt of 66 CE. 

Akko's pagan inhabitants worshipped gods, whose statues were installed in temples and throughout the city; however, only little has remained from the city's glory during the Roman period.

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

324-638 CE

The Byzantine Period

At the end of the Roman period, pagan temples were scattered throughout Akko. Churches and monasteries, which heralded in the conversion of the city's inhabitants to Christianity, became prominent along the city's skyline. From the second century onwards, a bishop served in Akko, as in Tyre, Jerusalem and Caesarea.

Until the end of the Byzantine period, Akko continued to serve as center of maritime trade, in which some Jewish residents of Akko also took part.

Despite the relative peace and stability in the Empire, the Jews of Akko joined the rebellions against the Roman and Byzantine rule in the fourth and sixth centuries.  The Jewish population of the Galilee was critical hit, while in Akko, it was annihilated.

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

638-1099 CE

The Early Islamic Period

The Arab Conquest expelled the Byzantines from the region.

Akko and its port now served the conquerors. The caliph, Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan began restoring the ruins and building new fortifications. The desolate Tel Akko remained outside the wall, and mosques replaced the churches.

The Muslim rulers renovated the port, but it was only rebuilt, with an adjacent shipyard, in the 9th century, under the rule of Ahmad ibn Tulun.

The presence of a Jewish population is documented in Akko at the beginning of the eleventh century. The city served as a center for Torah learning center, and leading figures from the "Land of Israel Yeshiva" – the main authoritative source of the local and Oriental Jews – resided in it.

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*Photos: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority


The Crusader Period

The Crusades

The Crusades began with Pope Urban II's call to liberate Jerusalem and the sites in the East that were sacred to Christianity.  Thousands of knights and commoners throughout Europe responded to the call. With the help of the Byzantine emperor, the knights set out to conquer Jerusalem.

1095-1099 - The First Crusade was declared a success.

For the next 180 years, the Crusaders tried to maintain their hold on the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The awakening of the local population and the resistance of the region's rulers contributed to the Crusader's fall and retreat. The Crusades greatly influenced all aspects of life in Europe, the economy, trade, politics, and society.

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Saladin and Richard the Lionheart

1187 – At the battle of Hattin, Saladin defeated the crusaders and conquered the key cities of Jerusalem and Akko. One of the leaders of the third crusade, Richard the Lionheart, tried to liberate Jerusalem and restore the rule of the Holy Cross. The king joined the siege on Akko, which lasted almost two years, until the city capitulated. Although enemies, the two leaders befriended one another. The king even offered his sister in marriage to Saladin's brother. Saladin expressed his appreciation to the king by sending physicians to his sickbed and gifting him his best horses

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Akko in the 13th Century

Akko served as the main port of the Crusader kingdom, the heart of its commercial activity and its administrative center. Similar to many other medieval cities, Akko was known as a densely populated city with a diverse population.

Akko was already a fortified city at the beginning of the 12th century.

1191 – King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart) recaptures the city in the Third Crusade.

After the third crusade (1189-1192), the boundaries of the northern quarter were expanded, and it was even surrounded by a double wall. Since Jerusalem remained in Muslim hands throughout most of the thirteenth century, Akko became the capital of the second kingdom of Jerusalem, the domicile of the patriarch and the headquarters of the Military Orders for the next 100 years.

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Cultural Life in Akko – Culture, Music, Theatre

Akko’s great cultural diversity reflected the character of its inhabitants. Byzantine and European influences mainly French and Italian, were evident in the local culture. Song, dance and music abounded. The city became known as a cultural center that attracted artists and scholars in many areas. Minorities practiced their religions and cultures under Crusader rule, and Western and Oriental scholars studied in the city. Literature and music were enjoyed by members of the higher social echelons. The clergy mastered Latin. The spoken language was Old French - which incorporated words in Italian and Arabic and their grammatical structures. This was the language used in trade and commerce.

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The Port and the Trade

Akko served as the main port of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, and as a main destination of merchants, religious leaders, pilgrims, and Crusaders. Trade was conducted in the markets, by merchants of all the communities.  Spices and precious stones were bought and sold, as well as raw materials, plants, and textiles.

Akko’s trade activity was generally uninterrupted, due to its great importance to the entire region. The trade and maritime activity that was associated with the port yielded immense profits for the kingdom's rulers.   Accounts written by pilgrims and travelers who visited the city attest to the port's immense value.

Manuscripts describe an outer port, as well as a smaller, inner one.

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The Mamluk Period

The Crusaders lost their hold on the kingdom some 50 years before the fall of Akko. A new power arose from Egypt: the Mamluks. By stopping the Mongolian invasion, the Mamluks began consolidating their rule in the area. They built magnificent mosques, schools for the study of Islam (madrassas) and inns for their pilgrims. They left Akko desolate, like the other coastal cities.

The ruler of Safed, which became the capital of the northern part of the country, allowed the Venetian merchants to resume the cotton trade through the port. Most of the Christian pilgrims arrived through the port of Jaffa; only few continued to arrive at the port of Akko.

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The Ottoman Period

Daher al-Omar 1745-1775

The reconstruction of the city in the 17th century began when Fakhr-al-Din came to power. A small number of Akko's buildings and castles were restored. Trade was resumed, as were the links with Europe, and with France in particular.

The greatest development took place during the rule of Daher al- Omar - 'The Ruler of the Galilee'. As soon as he assumed power, he began fortifying the cities under his rule: Safed, Tiberias and Shefa-'Amr, and developing diverse sources of income. He even built a port in Haifa. In Akko, he established a trading system and built his palace on the ruins of the Hospitaller compound, which he covered with soil.

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Ahmad Pasha (al-Jazzar) 1775-1804

The expulsion of Daher al-Omar marked the beginning of the rule of Ahmad Pasha, who was known as 'al-Jazzar' (the butcher) because of his intense cruelty.

Al-Jazzar built many public buildings in Akko, including the great mosque, markets, a public bath and a khan (caravanserai) Turkish bathhouse. He also built an aqueduct that conveyed water from the Kabri springs to Akko and reinforced the city's fortifications.

In 1799, his staunch resistance during the siege of Napoleon Bonaparte led to the withdrawal of the French troops from the country. The French Colonel Antoine de Phelippeaux, the English Vice Admiral, Sir Sidney Smith and a Jewish advisor, Haim Farhi, stood by his side.

1832 – Egypt’s General Ibrahim Ben Muhammad Ali Basha conquers and rules the city. He bases himself in Akko and pursues his journey eastward.

1840 – Bombarded by the British, Austrians, and Turks; the city returns to Ottoman rule.

1840-1919 – Akko becomes the capital of the northern region of the land of Israel ruled by the Turkish Empire.

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The British Period

- The British occupy Akko from the Turks (World War I),1918

The Palace of the ruler, built on the remains of the Hospitaller Center, became a government house during the British rule and later a prison and barracks, and a weapons depot for the local garrison. Hundreds of members of the Haganah, Etzel and Lehi underground organizations who were arrested for their struggle to defend the settlement, their battle against the government of the British Mandate and for their right to establish a national home in Eretz Israel, were imprisoned in this building.

1947 - On May 4, 1947, the prison was broken into by the Irgun force as part of a daring and coordinated mission to free their imprisoned comrades. 41 prisoners were released, including thirty Irgun members and eleven Lehi members.

1948 - Akko is conquered by Israel. 

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1948 onwards

Current Period

1948 - Akko is conquered by Israel and becomes part of the independent State of Israel and one of its most important tourist cities.

2001 - Old Akko is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Old Akko is added to the list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, as part of the World Heritage Convention that was created to protect the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Old Akko’s World Heritage status highlights its outstanding universal value that is worthy of protection for the benefit of humanity.
Old Akko, a historic port city surrounded by a wall, which has been continuously inhabited since the Phoenician period is situated in the region of the Asher tribe. The evidence of the Crusader city, from 1104 to 1291, was found almost intact above and below street level, and provides an extraordinary picture of the city’s outline and the structures of the Capital of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. Today’s city has been declared a fortified Ottoman city from the 18th and 19th centuries, with typical urban elements of a fortress, mosques, khans and baths.

2008 - Seven years later, in 2008, the Holy Baha'i sites in the Western Galilee and Haifa were also declared as a World Heritage Site. Some of these sites, including the holiest place for the Baha'i religion 'Al Bahji', are located in Akko. Consequently, Akko is the only city in Israel with two different UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Today, Old Akko is an international tourist city visited by tourists and visitors from Israel and around the world. Visiting Akko is an exciting journey to a glorious past and a unique experience.

The city walls, its fortresses and citadels, its churches, mosques and synagogues tell the story of many rulers who ruled and fought for the city and those who failed to conquer it like Napoleon.

Akko is characterized by mild weather for most months of the year, featuring a spectacular beach, marina and fishing port. It is a city impregnated with history, whose voices of the past emerge from every alley and it is characterized by an atmosphere of freedom and romance. Akko awaits you with its interactive port, colorful markets, museums for the whole family, galleries, chef restaurants and authentic food stalls, guest apartments and boutique hotels, the “Extreme Park”, a botanical garden and the spectacular Bahai gardens

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