Acre - Ancient city with Religious Equality
Acre, Ancient City (with) Religious Equality, a tour in sites belongs to four different religions.
In 2001, Acre was declared a World Heritage City by Unesco due to its special history, the combination of the east and west and the unique encounter of religions alongside remnants of different cultures. In this post I would like to write about one of my favorite cities in Israel, an ancient coastal city located in northern region next to the Mediterranean Sea with religious equality. Its religious diversity comes from the fact that many religious believers live here side by side: Muslims, Jews, Christians, Bahai and even Druze. I have selected 4 main sites for you to visit; each site belongs to a different religion.
According to the legend (or a true story) inside this mosque in a small box, you will find a very special treasure, the hair belongs to the beard of the prophet Muhamad! During the Ramadan 27th holiday (night of Al-Qdar) they take the hair and show it to the visitors.
Al-Jazar Mosque called after Ahmad Basha al-Jazar, governor of the Ottoman city on the 18 century (1777-1804) who is also buried in the mosque together with his successor and adopted son Suleiman.
The mosque complex is large and includes a school “Madras”.
The mosque was constructed over the remains of a crusader church and was called the white mosque because of its white color. The inspiration from the impressive architecture of the mosque and the effect of the floating dome is taken from the Turkish Mosque Hagia Sophia in Turkey.
The Tunisian Synagogue (“Or Hatorah”)
The uniqueness of the Or HaTorah synagogue lies in the colourful mosaics that cover it both outside and inside. The mosaics were created by the Kibbutz Ayalon mosaic plant.
The decorations on the walls and windows include the stories of the Bible, the history of the people of Israel, the State of Israel and Zionism, the IDF for all its symbols, its wars and victories, as well of the Holocaust.
This synagogue can be called a small museum because it is packed with small details. For instance, in the facade of the synagogue there are five arches, representing five Pentateuchs of the Bible. The cupola in the synagogue comprises the sign of the zodiac and 12 tribes of Israel. Below, you will notice the Jewish sacred places: the western wall, the cave of patriarchs in Hebron, the tomb of Rachel, the tower of David and the ancient synagogue in Tunisia (Djebra).
The Knight Hall
Apart from having the coolest ancient public services in Israel, this is a peek into an ancient and impressive Crusader fortress. This huge underground structure was discovered by chance under the prison in Acre. The complex of the building contains halls of knights in which they slept in, Church, an impressive dining room, remnants of their dishes and weapons and most of all the atmosphere of a Hollywood movie.
If you want to get into a character in a movie, you can sign up for a knight’s dinner and eat a meal like real knights (with your hands) and even watch a show that simulates a knight’s battle on horses. After enjoying the impressive place, you can get out through a secret canal that was used by the knights to secretly escape from the fortress.
The Bahai Gardens in Acre (Mansion of Bahji)
Acre regarded as the holiest place for Bahai faith believers because of the founder Bahji (Bhahaullah) tomb and gardens.
The Bahá'í faith was separated from the Shi'ite faith of Islam in Persia in the nineteenth century. Ali Shirazi was discovered by his teachers as an Imam (the leaders in mosques) who was to appear in 1884, 1,000 years after the last Imam's disappearance according to the Hijra calendar. Ali Shirazi, who his nickname was “The Bab” (the door due to his job to coordinate between people to god), took upon himself the power to make new reforms in the Islam. Islamic leaders have seen and disliked Ali Shirazi's changes. As late as 1850, Shirazi was executed. A few years later he was buried in Haifa, the reason for it is due to his disciple.
One of Ali Shirazi's disciples was Mirza Hussein Ali (nickname Bahaullah). He was imprisoned due to violent repression. After his release from prison, he declared himself the successor of the Bab and stated that the baby announced his arrival and that he was the new «imam». That is why the Bahai faith had two founders Bab and Bahaullah.
The Bahaullah considered as a divine but the Persian authority did not like it so he migrates with followers to Turkey, and then to Israel which was belong to Ottoman authority as well. He was placed under house arrest in a cell in the Acre Prison (now the Museum of Underground Prisoners) for two years. In Acre he has formulated the principles of Bahai religion with its sacred book “al-Qatab al-Akdes”.
He called for world peace, world equality between women and men, and world unity. Bahaullah preached pacifism. The principles of religion in the pursuit harmony and are reflected in the noble architecture and maintenance gardens.
Baha’u’llah continued to wander around Acre and the village at one point, his son purchased the house on the Baha'i Estate where he lived until his death in 1892. The Bahai faith pray to Acre direction, as his grave considered as the holiest place for them.
Opening hours and contact:
Muslim Elzajar Mosque
The entrance fees for the mosque is only 10 Nis
Opening hours: Please coordinate.
Phone number: 04-9913039
Tunisian Synagogue (“Or Hatorah”)
Open Sun-Fri 09:30-12:30
Any visit should be coordinated with Yaffa 050-6822781, 04-9915979
Entrance is free of charge, please leave a donation
Open Sun-Thu 08:30-17:00, Fri 08:30-14:00, Sat 09:00-17:00
You can buy a ticket to the museum only or a combined ticket includes other niche sites such as the temples tunnel.
Bahai Gardens in Acre
Opening hours Sun-Wed 09:00-16:00, on Thu-Sat 09:00-14:00
Please coordinate guided tour 04-8313131
The city walls, its fortresses, the churches, mosques, synagogues and other buildings in Acre tell the story of many rulers who ruled, fought, built and glorified it. The acre is a wonderful city to explore and has many remains from the Ottoman period, including khans, mosques, Turkish bath and from the Crusader period including beautiful underground structures. Today, the diversity of religious living side by side mark this place as a definitely worth a visit. Contact me for guided tour in Acre to get familiar with this wonderful city.