Israel’s shoreline hosts not only modern ports and bustling beaches. This month, Aviram Valdman aimed his lens at Acre, a timeless town with an incredible history.
From the Knights Templar to Cleopatra VII; from Heracles to Herod to Saint Paul; from the Phoenicians to the Maccabees to the Persians, the Umayads, the Bah’ai and the British (and, of course, the Israelis): the seemingly quiet seaside port city of Acre has seen it all. Today, Acre lives comfortably in the shadows of Israel’s super-antiquities but its residents—the Arab boys who leap from the Crusader fortress walls into the sea, the pastry-sellers lodged in the old-city walls, and the growing community of blue-collar Jews in the city’s northern section—will tell you it’s unlike any place on earth.
Being the first UNESCO World Heritage site in a country full of heritage sites says something. But reading UNESCO’s nearly unrestrained enthusiasm for the “exceptional” quality of an “exceptional” ancient city lying almost completely intact within (and beneath) the contemporary city, you begin to get a sense of the true importance of the place.
Above the history, Acre distinguishes itself as a place apart: Known for having some of the best hummus, fish and mezze restaurants in the country (as well as the most richly refined kanafeh dessert), it’s a place where fishing rods prick unclouded skies, horses still stable in old-city mangers, where the friction between Jews and Arabs creates warmth, and sometimes fire, and where the old way is still the way. This is Acre.
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Photos: The Tower/Aviram Valdman