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Akko, now run by a small Arab community.
Akko, now run by a small Arab community.
Take a leap into the Mediterranean sea.
The Lighthouse Hostel.

Akko

Thursday, September 14, 2000
This is the home of Alexander the Great and Hercules. Behind the walls of the old city you can wander the labyrinth of alleys, markets and mosques.

Akko has 4000 years of history, full of extraordinary stories about its destruction and rebuilding. It was home to both Alexander the Great and Hercules. Greek conquerors, Syrians, Egyptians and crusaders have also called this tiny Mediterranean fishing village home. Marco Polo, Napoleon and Richard the Lion Heart are thought to have wandered through here.

Old Akko is a port surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean and is made up of stone buildings and winding alleys, surrounded by a sea wall. It is mainly run by Arabs, whereas the more modern Akko, situated outside the walls, is run by Jews.

Once inside the labyrinth of Old Akko it is easy to become lost, but it's so small you will come across familiar landmarks in no time at all. To walk from one end to the other takes only 20 minutes.

Old Akko was actually built eight metres on top of an even older Akko, made up of tunnels, alleys and basements dating back to the crusades. A large section of it is still buried, but ongoing excavations are exposing more of it every year.

Fifty years ago archaeologists discovered a huge and magnificent crusader hall with three massive columns supporting a cross-vaulted ceiling. Gothic in style, with stone arches carved in oriental style, it has very good acoustics and is used for concerts and theatre performances. Al Jazzar's Turkish bathhouse is the place to go if you're after a steam bath, and it's believed to have been used as a venue for planning intrigues.

The port used to be a focal point for merchant ships from all over the globe, but today boats and ships are used for fishing and entertainment. There are some very good seafood restaurants in the marina area, and it's a good spot to sit and watch the fishermen.

The shuk is the market area, selling felafel, food, sweets, clothing and souvenirs from shops and outdoor stands. It opens at 6am and is busiest in the morning. The souq is a row of butchers, bakers, sweet sellers and hummus stands within the shuk area where you can enjoy hot pita, vegetables, hummus and olives while you're taking a break from wandering around.

There are very few hostels in Old Akko — the Lighthouse is the oldest. The two-storey white stone building was built for a Turkish queen and, depending upon who you talk to, it is anywhere between 250 and 3000 years old. It has views of Haifa and the sea.

Even though Akko is small, there are six or seven mosques inside the old wall, and if you are a light sleeper, the daily prayers might wake you when they start at 5am.

Location

Two hours north of Tel Aviv in Israel.

Cost

Qantas flies daily to Bangkok with El-Al connections three times a week to Tel Aviv. Return economy airfares start at $2069 from the east coast and Adelaide and $1969 from Perth.
The Lighthouse Hostel costs around $10 per person per night for a shared room, or $52 per night for a double room.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

The Lighthouse Hostel
175/11 Hahagana Street, Akko, Israel
Ph/Fax: 0011 972 04 981 5530
Israel Tourism: (02) 9328 1722
Qantas:13 1313

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