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The Hospitaller Fortress
The Hospitaller Fortress
|Location 1 Weizmann St., Acre|
|Phone number 972 4 9956707/6|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility no|
|Geographical Coordinates 32.92575,35.07239|
The Hospitallers are a military, monastic order devoted to caring for the sick in the Holy Land and to maintaining the personal safety of the pilgrims who flocked to the holy sites. They managed hospitals in Jerusalem and in Acre.
History and time period
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was founded in 1099 following the First Crusade and the conquest of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom and Acre subsequently developed into the port city and the main gate to the Holy Land. Following the battle of Hattin in 1187 and the defeat of the Crusader army, the Kingdom was conquered by Salah ad-Din, who headed the Muslim armies. He ruled in Jerusalem and Acre for about four years. In 1191, following a two-year siege, King Richard the Lionhearted – who headed the Christian armies – re-conquered Acre. During this journey, which became the Third Crusade, the Christians were unable to free Jerusalem and established their new kingdom along the shoreline between Tzur and Ashkelon. Acre, the second most important city in the Crusader Kingdom, became the capital of the second kingdom. The Hospitaller Order, which thrived in Jerusalem during the First Crusader Kingdom (1187-1099) transferred its headquarters to Acre during the Second Crusader Kingdom (1291-1191). The Hospitallers, who had a quarter there during the First Kingdom, returned to Acre, expanded their headquarters and rebuilt the site, which consisted of two to three floors around a central court as well as underground sections – water reservoirs and a sewage system. It was not the entire site that was excavated; to date, an area of about 5000 m2 was excavated, which encompasses the central court and the northern, eastern and southern wings. The western wing has yet to be excavated. Visitors of the site will primarily be exposed to the remains of the first floor of the Hospitaller headquarters since the upper floors were destroyed by the Muslim conqueror and the ravages of time. The Ministry of Defense's Underground Prisoners Museum is currently located above the archeological site. Acre's Hospitaller quarter houses three main buildings: the headquarters (Knights' Halls); St. John's Church south of the headquarters (now a municipal community center in the Ottoman Saraya House); and the hospital south of the church that is yet to be excavated.