Because Acre, 22 kilometres north of Haifa, had the best natural harbour on the coast of the Holy Land, it achieved importance from early times.
It was King Ptolemy of Egypt who called it Ptolemais, the name mentioned by St Luke (Acts 21:7) when he and St Paul visited it at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey around AD 58.
By then a Christian community was already established. Christianity spread rapidly in the city and by AD 190 it had a bishop.
today the medieval city of Akko is mainly underground, but decades of excavation have revealed its grandeur. An enormous complex of halls with high vaulted ceilings and stone floors has been revealed. The rooms were used as a hospital, living quarters, dining halls, and for ceremonial purposes, and are connected with underground tunnels that gave access to the sea during times of siege.
In the old city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tourists can enter a tunnel that dates back to the time of the Crusaders. As visitors walk through the winding route, a multi-media presentation on the tunnel walls describes the history of Akko. At the end, visitors emerge at the spot from which the Crusaders departed after losing control of the Holy Land.