A Knight’s Tale
4,000 years old. The ancient city was just a hill, and only partly excavated. Not much to look at, so we only drove by. Our destination was the “Old City” right next door, closer to our time by 1,500 years. All told, Akko is one of the few continuously inhabited cities for almost 4,000 years. It’s not a well to do city right now, the primary bazaar is partly closed for lack of business. The children play in the urban streets with a soccer ball in need of inflating, and a boy of six leads a pony down an alley. The buildings are not in great condition, except the Bahai house where their holy prophet once lived.
Yet, I have reason to believe that this is a city about ready to see a great upturn before the child with the pony sees 26. Several things in it remind me of Old
Town, Alexandria of the 1970’s. Like Alexandria, Virginia, here’s a port city with old, important architecture and a storied past. A few select street vendors offer fresh squeezed pomegranate and tasty desserts that are as much a feast for the eyes as the tongue. Several restaurants already dot the harbor side street and perhaps more will open as more tour groups like ours make this a pilgrimage site.
But one event, in particular, gives me the sense that this city would be a great investment. In just the last 20 years, a magnificent and romantic fortress was uncovered, the Templar stronghold of Acre. The knights from Europe called this city Acre. This massive structure with its great halls was buried for over 800 years afte the last crusaders fled. It was briefly unearthed in the 18th century but when it was deemed too much work to dig out, it was filled in with, of all things, rubble from the ancient hill next door! Consider the confused 20th century archeologist finding 3,000 year old pottery shards on TOP of a 12th century ruin.
The newly rediscovered great hall with its sturdy pillars and gothic, cross vaulted ceilings, once the dining hall for knights and pilgrims, is already being rented out for fancy cocktail parties. The revenue is helping to pay for the ongoing archeological work. Rumor has it an entrepeneur is already working on the reconstruction of the hospitality suites of the knights into a modern, upscale hotel. This city is aiming for a renaissance, and it is being fueled by this recent discovery. Besides, Akko’s harbor on the Mediteranean is as enchanting as ever in its 4,000 year history. I assume it will continue its long lived history, and await to see what the next generation inherits after what I’ve seen today.