Category : Blog

Akko | Museum of the Underground Prisoners

Head towards the northern part of old Akko, and you can’t miss the imposing Ottoman-era fortress which stands atop the ruins of a former Crusader fortress. Known by many as the Citadel, this building originally served as a government building for Akko’s rulers. It is now an impressive museum dedicated to the hundreds of members of Jewish underground organizations like the Haganah, Irgun, Etzel, and Lehi who were imprisoned here during British rule, which lasted roughly 30 years until 1948.

The museum presents the story of the prisoners’ struggle to defend the Jewish settlement and their right to establish a national home in the Land of Israel. Visitors will learn about the first prisoner, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and the defenders of Jerusalem imprisoned with him in 1920. The prison unfolds the story of the Oley Hagardom — nine prisoners sentenced to death who were hanged in the Akko prison (1938-1947). It tells  of the famous story of the bold prison break in May 1947, as well as the story of the central groups of prisoners, prison routine, and more.

What’s on display

Operated by the Israel Ministry of Defense, the museum features an interactive display with original and reconstructed exhibits, a tour of the prison cells, and an account of the prison’s rich history.

What visitors will see

Visitors will experience the stories of the underground groups and modern Israel’s early struggles, emphasizing the values of the underground fighters, such as: Zionism and love of the homeland, valor, and sacrifice. The tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and must be arranged in advance.

More than a mere exhibit, Museum of Underground Prisoners highlights a vital part of Israel’s history and struggle towards statehood. It serves as an eternal memorial to the Jewish underground fighters who helped pave the way for the modern State.

Akko Theater Center | Israel’s History Interpreted Through Drama

Started in the 1980s by a group of Israeli actors who had a vision to create a unique theatrical experience that also encourages community engagement, the Akko Theater Center (ATC) is now home to a broad community of Jewish and Arab performing artists.

Supported by the Israel Ministry of Education and by its own revenues, the Center is located in the beautifully-appointed facilities offered by the Knights Hall in Old Acre.

The Akko Theatre Center has gained global recognition for its novel approach to its groundbreaking and award-winning productions with plays such as Arbeit Macht Frei, Memories of the Second Generation, Arab Dream and WishUponAStar. These productions blend history with a focus on social and cultural issues.

See Akko’s history come alive

Throughout the years, the Akko Theater Center has collaborated with the Old Acre Development Company to produce and perform colorful historical plays blending history and theater and enabling visitors to immerse themselves in Akko’s long legacy.

Take an unforgettable theatrical journey through time that blurs the boundaries between reality and imagination, where the Old City’s forebears come to life throughout the city and in the Knights Hall. Actors portray historic figures with connections to Akko, such as Napoleon, Saladin, and Ahmad el-Jazzar, and interact with the audience.

Take part in Akko’s Fringe Theater Festival

Since 1979, Akko’s “Festival of Alternative Theater” or “Fringe Theater Festival” as it’s now called, has been a fixture every year in Akko’s Old City. Held over a period of four days during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, the festival welcomes theatergoers and performers from all over the world.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of performances, ranging from street theater to parades, dance performances, interactive theater, and more.

Akko’s Restaurants by the Sea

One of the delights of exploring the city of Akko is the opportunity for culinary adventures, especially when you’re dining at one of these Mediterranean hotspots.

While the more traditional flavors of the Mediterranean (think hummus and falafel) run rampant throughout the city, you can pretty much find anything your heart desires. From fresh seafood to authentic Israeli and Levantine fare, this ancient port city is a foodie’s paradise, boasting the kinds of dining destinations that are sure to satisfy your craving for all things Mediterranean. Here is a sampling of some of the finest restaurants you’ll find in Akko:

1.) Uri Buri

Considered one of the finest seafood restaurants in Israel, Uri Buri is the brainchild of legendary chef, Uri Jeremias. Located in an unassuming Ottoman-era building, just a short distance away from the Mediterranean Sea, Uri Buri treats its guests to a singular experience of the freshest fish, inventive seafood dishes, and over 100 kinds of the finest Israeli wine. Be prepared to spend several hours there, feasting and chatting with the owner himself.

2.) Mercato

Tucked away in a quiet corner in the old Turkish Bazaar is Mercato, a small, but intimate eatery that specializes in serving up a fusion of rustic Italian with a touch of the Middle East. Enjoy handmade pastas and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza as well as the freshest fish and seafood. Round out the experience with an iced coffee or espresso and a homemade lemon tart, and you’ll be planning a repeat visit.

3.) El Marsa

You can’t go to El Marsa just for the view, though to be fair—the view is pretty spectacular. Located on Akko’s port, just a stone’s throw from the harbor, this Middle Eastern gem is located in a converted 13th century home that reflects its Crusader roots. El Marsa is a seafood lovers haven, serving fresh catches daily, from sweet, juicy shrimp to calamari rings and salmon. Their menu also includes various meat-based dishes and creative desserts, such as halva mousse.

4.) Doniana

Imagine a sumptuous supper, served al fresco against the magnificent backdrop of the ancient walls of Akko, overlooking Haifa Bay and the remnants of the Crusader Harbor. If this is your idea of the ultimate dining experience, then make your way to Doniana. Fresh grilled fish and tender, juicy meats comprise the menu, with everything designed to pair with the salty Mediterranean breeze. Perfect for families with children or for a romantic date, Doniana will sweep you off your feet.

5.) Abu Christo

Located in the Old City, this popular, family-owned oceanfront restaurant is best known for serving up the daily catch—take your pick of grouper, red snapper, or sea bass—prepared either grilled or deep-fried. If shellfish is more your taste, then opt for juicy, flavorful jumbo shrimp and crabs, or take your pick of grilled meats and other items. The starters are not to be missed—sit in the shade of the covered patio while you dig into freshly prepared hummus with pine nuts and an array of salads, suited for any palate.

6.) Pisani Port

Pisani Port restaurant welcomes guests with its lovely, relaxed charm and rustic seafood and vegetarian dishes…and did we mention the view? Take in a warm afternoon or evening on the terrace and indulge in freshly grilled whole sea bass while watching the waves crash against the sea wall below. If you’re daring, be sure to try their assortment of small plates featuring local dishes and varieties of salads.

All Aboard the Haifa-Akko Ferry

After decades of dreaming, a new ferry service connecting the ports of Haifa, Israel’s seaside capital of the north, and Akko, the historic “gateway to the Holy Land”, has become a popular tourism attraction.

The ferry line, launched in 2016 by the Israel Ministry of Tourism as an initiative to promote sightseeing in the northern cities of Israel, is the first such project of its kind. The ferry operates four days a week, morning and evening, with a fixed schedule.

Passengers can enjoy this scenic alternative to driving from Haifa to Akko in exchange for warm Mediterranean breezes, open views of the Carmel Mountains, downtown Haifa, the coastline, the colorful Akko fishing port and the Akko Marina. A one-way trip lasts approximately 45 minutes.

The ferry transports up to 200 people on two levels.

The port of Haifa with spectacular views of the city.

The historic port of Akko welcomes visitors with its ancient and oriental charm.

Passengers are also treated to music and an automated recording which tells the history of all the people who controlled the area, and their impact on the region – from the Romans and the Mamluks to the Crusaders and the British.

Future improvements to the ferry line include plans to offer passengers the option to purchase combined tickets which offer tours to sites in Akko and Haifa.

Akko’s Luxury Hotels

Some might say that if you’re going to enjoy first-class views while you’re on holiday, then you’ll want to spend it in first-class accommodations. If those views happen to be in Akko, then the maxim couldn’t be truer. You’d be hard-pressed to find a traveler who has stayed in a luxury hotel and regretted the experience.

If you are making plans to spend some quality time in the ancient, sun-soaked Mediterranean port city of Akko, it’s worth your time and money to find a place that offers much more than just a place to lay your head at night. You want an experience that enhances — and may even be the highlight of — your trip. There are many places to stay in Akko, but two hotels have established the quality of service and reputation that you would expect from a luxury establishment.

The Efendi Hotel

Looking for class, convenience, comfort, and impeccable service? Then, look no further than the magnificent (and extremely hip) Efendi Hotel. Overlooking the Old City’s historic walls and the cerulean blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the Efendi provides its guests a truly unforgettable experience. Add to this that it is conveniently close to any destination in the Old City … and you can’t possibly turn away.

Long the vision of hotelier and legendary restaurateur Uri Jeremias, proprietor and chef of the renowned Uri Buri, the Efendi is the culmination of eight years of planning, preservation, and restoration of two formerly derelict Ottoman-era mansions combined into a single structure and later opened as a luxe hotel.

The Efendi welcomes guests with jaw-dropping vaulted ceilings, marble bathrooms and elegantly-appointed furnishings. Guests can also lounge in the stately public rooms on the ground floor with a Turkish coffee after a sumptuous breakfast, or step out onto the breezy terrace with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. On the second floor, the 12 refined, spacious rooms offer all the amenities of home, plus a few extras. Upgraded rooms have sitting areas with views of the Old City; some include ornate mural ceilings. Other rooms have seaside views and ornate claw-footed bathtubs.

While comfort is the prevailing theme at the Efendi, guests find the hotel’s history really comes to life in the public spaces. Spa service is offered to guests in a 400-year-old Turkish bath, complete with a marble-lined hammam (steam bath), while the renovated Crusader-era wine cellar boasts an extensive collection of quality Israeli wines. Guests can also enjoy delicately prepared tapas and small appetizers.

Zarqa Luxury Suites

Located at the seaside edge of the Old City, the Zarqa provides guests with an inviting and enjoyable stay in an intimate, sea-front setting. Located just minutes from the Crusader Citadel and the port area’s dining hub, the hotel provides excellent access to major tourist sites as well as featuring ample free, on-street parking.

Zarqa is a comparatively small hotel with only four guest suites! However, guests receive a five-star experience. The spacious rooms are immaculately prepared and uniquely, but tastefully, furnished, adding to its quasi-bohemian feel.

Each room also has a balcony with stunning views of the Mediterranean. Guests are also treated to a made-to-order Israeli breakfast each morning—served either in the courtyard or brought to your room—and are also provided with complementary bottles of red wine. After an evening out, guests can return to their room to enjoy a long soak in the jacuzzi or a luxurious bath with oils and salts. Alternatively, the rooftop lounge invites guests to relax and take in the ocean breeze.

The staff at Zarqa ensures it provides its guests with a memorable experience with an individual touch, making this hotel feel luxurious, but with a distinct feel of being a home away from home.

The Akko Old City Market – the Best of the Middle East

When you’re looking for a real taste of Middle Eastern marketplace, few destinations beat Akko’s Old City market.

Tucked in among its ancient fortresses and upscale dining, the Old City market is located on the city’s main route which runs from north to south.

The market, or souk, is the ideal place for bargain shoppers who enjoy the adventure of haggling for a good deal.

Offering a wide range of tasty fares, local staples, antiques and household goods, the market captures the senses with its colorful spices and produce, freshly-caught fish, and scrumptious sweets.

Make a stop along the way for some freshly-squeezed fruit juice!

Wander the ancient alleyways long enough, and you will find your camera working overtime here, with a kaleidoscope of colors and sights to capture.

Because the market is so heavily frequented by locals, it’s also an ideal opportunity for visitors to interact and immerse themselves in the flow of the market scene.

Fun is the primary objective when you explore the Akko marketplace, so whether you’re looking for an original gift to bring home, or you simply want to eat your way through, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for here.

The Orchard Garden

Located behind the Citadel of Akko on the northwest side of the city, atop the magnificent city walls, lies the Orchard Garden, a renovated 43,000-square foot fruit orchard and garden.

Laid out in a style reminiscent of the Ottoman-period of the late eighteenth century, the garden is the culmination of several years of planning.

The lush and peaceful setting welcomes visitors year-round and is ideal for a quiet afternoon picnic or outdoor event.

It features a 300-seat amphitheater and a variety of fountains, inviting visitors to rinse their hands in the cool water and enjoy the color and fragrance of the lush flora.

The garden is filled will fruit trees — notably beautiful are the pomegranate trees throughout the garden. Pomegranates are one of the seven fruits that grow naturally in the Holy Land. Some of the trees date back to the original establishment of the garden over two hundred years ago.

Visitors can also enjoy sitting in one of the wooden arbors filled with luscious grapes.

The Orchard Garden is a feast for the senses and makes a perfect escape from the hustle of the crowds, welcoming you into its private courtyard.

This beautiful garden is also available for private gatherings, parties and weddings. A place of quiet beauty and solitude in the Old City of Akko.