Siege of Acre, The Hospitalier Master Mathieu de Clermont defending the walls in 1291. Chateau de Versailles, reproduced in “Brieve histoire des Ordres Religieux”, Editions Fragile, circa 1840, D.Papety (1815-1849).

The city of Acre, or Akko, was captured by the Crusaders on May 26, 1104. They built sophisticated fortifications around the city and a port along the sea. Saladin’s army captured the city in 1187, and a Crusader attack in 1188 failed. Richard the Lion Heart, King of England, and Philip Augustus, King of France (leaders of the Third Crusade) succeeded in re-capturing Acre on July 12, 1191.

Since Jerusalem was in the hands of the Moslems, Acre served as the political and administrative capital of the Crusader Kingdom. Its harbor provided a link to Christian Europe. The city of Acre consisted of a castle housing the Crusader kings, merchant quarters, marketplaces, churches and hospices. The headquarters of the Order of the Hospitallers (the Knights of St. John) was an impressive building complex in the city of Acre.

The city of Acre finally fell to the Moslems on May 18, 1291. The Crusader fortifications were destroyed under Ottoman rule, so that almost no trace of the walls remains. Only very small portions of it have been excavated. The Ottomans filled the Hospitallers building with dirt in order to build a palace and citadel on the site. The Hosptillars building complex has been excavated, as well as the remains of Crusader streets. Excavations in Acre took place in the 1950’s and ’60’s and were recommenced in the 1990’s.

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