Related Posts with Thumbnails

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Akko (Acre)

We didn't know that Akko was Acre. Our friends told us that it was a city with lovely ruins from the past. We nodded our heads politely and went along. Akko meant nothing to us. Acre meant many things. Akko is a town as old as civilization. As days flowed into years and years into centuries, Acre went from Phoenician rule to Christian rule to Muslim rule and finally, Israel took this town in 1948.

A humongous castle stands at Acre, excavated painstakingly from under 30 metres of mud and stone the Muslims poured into and on top of its vast halls in an attempt to obliterate all traces of christendom in Acre. The mud preserved the structure very well. The arched ceilings rise elegantly 20m above the ground, every brick preserved and intact. Monastic knights lived here. These were men who dedicated their lives to the protection of pilgrims who made the long journey to Jerusalem to see the land where Jesus and Mary lived and died.

They were warrior monks.

The best known of such monks would have to be the Knights Templar who ran one of the world's first known money transfer system. Devout Christians left all their possessions in the care of the Knights Templar in the towns where they lived. These possessions were quantified and recorded. As these Christians travelled across strange lands, they did not have to carry much wealth and risk having that wealth be taken away by robbers and brigands. Instead, they could approach any branch of the Knights Templar along the way and draw down upon the wealth they had left in the care of the Knights Templar.

Templar Knights swore an oath of poverty. The emblem of the Knights Templar has 2 knights sitting on the same horse... to represent how poor the knights were. They were too poor to mount each knight on his own horse. Of course, whilst the order may have started poor, it soon became a very rich organisation because every one who was religious would donate wealth to the order... and wealthy devotees would give their lands and riches to the order for safekeeping during their own long years of pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Being religiously driven, the Templar Knights were formidable in battle. They were not allowed to withdraw from battle. Dying was an honour. As usual, money corrupts the mind, spirit and soul. After a bit, lesser men, driven by money more than religious fervour inflitrated the ranks of the order. These knights lost Acre after 200 years, losing to Sala-adin, an Kurdish Muslim who was equally driven by religious fervour, and a man so great that he commanded even the respect of his Christian enemies.

One of the Large Halls

The Knights Dining Hall

People dressed up as knights and pilgrims.

Parts of the castle exposed to the elements. The walls reached further out into the sea but much has been destroyed by wind and water erosion.

No comments: