Israel began flourishing in history since the ancient times including Acre. Although it has been conquered many times by different conquistadors, Israel remained steadfast and was able to absorb the different cultures and religious practices of its conquering visitors. For this reason, tourists from around the world pay visit to this ancient country. Israel, archaic as it may seem, cradles the world’s greatest mysteries.
Israel caters every tourist’s needs. It has admirable cities that offer a lot of things. And these things, remarkable as it is, make the visit in Israel memorable, whatever the purpose of the visit may be— religious, adventurous, gourmet, fashion, art, education, and what not.
Acre is where the Ahmed el-Jazzar Mosque is found. This mosque is a perfect example of the Turkish Rococo architecture. Its rectangular- shaped courtyard, with arcades of round halls is entered by a set of steps. On the right side of it is a Rococo kiosk. The rooms of this courtyard once provided sanctuary for those Islamic ecclesiastics and pilgrims.
In the arcades of gallery of the mosque are steps that lead down to an ancient reservoir that provided a su7pply of water for the entire town when it was under great destruction. In front of the main entrance to the mosque is a fountain for ritual ablutions, the act of washing oneself, with copper roofs that are mounted on elegant columns. A small plain-domed establishment to the right of the entrance contains the entombment of Ahmed el-Jazzar and his successor Suleiman Pasha
From the wall beyond the sea wall in Acre is a cramped street that leads you straight to the gates of Ahmed el-Jazzar’s Citadel. This fortress, built over a great mound of earth, was used as a prison during the British Mandate. A tiny commemorative room with a collection of photographs and documents recognizes and gives honor to the Jewish underground fighters who were imprisoned, tortured or executed by the British authorities.
Directly opposing the Ahmed el-Jazzar Mosque is the entrance gateway to the immense set of buildings which were once occupied by the Knights of St John. It is called the “Crusader city” – which now lies underneath the earth. Many of the buildings were dug out during 1955 and during 1964. In the northern part of the complex is where the seven rooms, undoubtedly connected and occupied by the seven “tongues” where the brotherhood of St John was made of and constituted from, are found.
One part of the complex that completely exposed for public viewing is the refectory, which is repeatedly mistaken as the crypt. It is an enormous rectangular- shaped hall with groined vaulting borne on three massive round piers. But the astonishing feature of the complex is the spatial effect of its monumental structure. From the refectory is another mysterious path that descends into a well-lit underground hall-way – which was used by the Crusaders as a secret passageway to the harbor. It runs for only 65 meters to 70 yards to the Bosta , also a part of the building. According to the documents of the place, the Knights used Bosta for the way-farers as a shelter and quarters.
Moving Away from Acre, we come to a district called Ashqelon, Barnea. This district houses the remains of a Byzantine basilica.
Ashqelon also features its National Park where tourists can camp, picnic, eat, and swim. This is also where the remains of ancient Ashkelon are found. Ashkelon is isolated away from the modern town by a wide extent of well-kept gardens and Orange plantations. The whole area contains numerous remains ranging from the Philistine period to the Middle Ages and is enclosed by a crescent- shaped wall.
Richard The Lion-Hearted built the wall in Ashkelon in 1192. It has four gates – the Jaffa Gate on the northern side, the Jerusalem Gate on the eastern side, the Gaza Gate on the southern side and the Sea Gate on the western side. In the south side are the remains of the Roman period. These were the colossal Corinthian capitals, column bases and other remains from the immensely built Hundred-Columned Stoa by Herod the Great. The recess at the southern end of the stoa was altered into a prayer alcove of the mosque. This is where is a large relief depicting the kneeling Atlas bearing the globe, with a goddess of Victory hovering over him, can be found. Another relief shows the goddess Isis with her son Horus.
By the ancient harbor is the heap on which the Philistine town once flourished; it can be reached by taking a path that bears right from the main avenue.
The Monastery of the Lady Mary can be found in a district called Bet Shean. It is in here that Byzantine remains can also be found. In 567 a noble lady named Mary and her son Maximus founded a monastery. It has fine mosaics pavements depicting animals and birds. It also depicted the 12 months in Greek inscriptions.
On the east side of Bet Shean, taking the road from Tiberias, is the Municipal Park that contains a small open-air theater. This park features the Turkish Seraglio of 1905 that has antique columns framing the doorway.
Bethlehem, another district in Israel is where the famed Church of the Nativity is found. It is a fortress-like building that is built on the site believed to be where Jesus was born. The central doorway shows the work of many centuries. The original door, the relief-decorated architrave, and the pillars of the sixth century Justinian church can still be seen. The interior designs of the church truly preserved the tranquil moments of the sixth century.