The Western Galilee is a fascinating region in what it can offer visitors. All in close proximity to each other, you can find golden beaches, traditional and historical sites belonging to five religions and communities that live in the area (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Baha’i), unique and spectacular natural attractions, and an enormous range of culinary opportunities based on the local cuisine.
Let's start the day in Rosh Hanikra, Israel's most northerly point, and an amazingly beautiful natural site. A visit there includes a ride on the steepest, shortest cable car trip in the world, which descends to the grottoes from 70 meters above sea level, at a sharp 60 degree angle. During the short descent it is impossible not to be amazed by the unique, magical landscape and seascape, revealed in shades of blue, white and yellow. A tour of the grottoes, which were created over thousands of years through geological and hydrological processes, is an exceptional experience, with the noise and spray of the waves breaking in them. The route is lit throughout the day. There is also an audiovisual show that explains how the grottoes were created and recounts the history of the place.
The Baha’i Gardens in Acre
A twenty- minute journey south brings you to the outskirts of the town of Acre and the Baha’i Gardens. The breathtaking gardens surround the historic site where Baha'ulla, the founding prophet of the Baha’i faith, lived during the last years of his life, and the temple where he is buried.
A walk in the circular garden and along the long path that leads to it brings on a sense of internal peace and serenity, which only increases as you get closer to the middle of the garden. The gardening here is carefully designed and harmoniously blends with the historic buildings and the natural elements around it, including a 100-year-old sycamore tree and an ancient olive grove.
The gardens are open to visitors seven days a week, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., excluding Baha’i festivals and on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. There is no charge for entrance to the gardens and no need to book in advance.
It is recommended to visit the gardens between Friday and Monday, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., when you can also visit the internal gardens and enter the temple.
A visit to Acre is a very special experience. The town offers a fascinating history, a rare combination of East and West, authentic scenes from the past, a special meeting point of faiths and religions, and remains of various peoples, cultures and religions. From the Canaanites, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders and Mamelukes, to the Turks and the British. Alongside its splendid past, Acre offers a lively present, with colorful markets, an authentic fishing port, marina, restored boutique hotels and a large number of restaurants.
The route described here includes only some of the sites the town has to offer, and we recommend that you wander and visit other sites according to the time you have available.
The Hospitaller Fortress (The Knights' Halls)
An extensive building that served as the headquarters of the Order of Hospitallers in Acre in the 13th century, a Crusader military order, which owned much property, was very powerful and had a great deal of influence throughout the Land of Israel. In the castle, built with two and three stories around a central courtyard, lived the head of the Order and its supreme court. The building also contained storehouses, dining rooms and meeting halls that served all the knights of the Order in Acre in their daily lives. South of the castle stood the Order's main church, the Church of St. John. Today an Ottoman building stands on that site.
The Turkish Hamam - Hamam El Basha
A magnificent hamam - Turkish baths - built by the Ottoman ruler of Acre in 1781-2 to serve the town's Muslim inhabitants. The hamam played a central role in the Ottoman town, as a social meeting place for rest and recreation, and as a place of indulgence for the rich. This is where things happened, the place to go to know what was happening in town. The hamam was destroyed in an earthquake and rebuilt at the beginning of the 19th century.
During your visit, the hamam will come alive with "Experiences of the Last Bathhouse Attendant" - its high point is when you enter a steam-filled room and meet the last bathhouse attendant at work.
The Shuk (Open Air Market)
A visit to Acre is not complete without wandering through the alleys of the open air market, which crosses the town from north to south. The lively, colorful market, with all its sights and scents, is today the hub of commercial activity in the town, with fish shops, butchers, spice, vegetables and cosmetics stores and souvenir shops.
The Templars' Tunnel
The Templars were a military-monastic Order that provided protection for pilgrims who arrived from Europe to visit the Land of Israel. The tunnel was a strategic underground passageway that connected the Order's main castle in Acre, the strongest building in the town, with the port. The lower part of the tunnel was hewn out of the rock, while its upper part was built of stone, with an overall length of 350 meters. While walking through the tunnel, an audiovisual presentation is projected on the walls, telling about the town during Crusader times and about the Order of Templars.