Crusader City, Akko
Opposite the Ahmed el-Jazzar Mosque in Akko is the entrance to the massive complex of buildings occupied by the Knights of St John, the "Crusader city", which now lies underground. It was buried under a great mound of earth on which Ahmed el-Jazzar built his Citadel. Much of the complex was excavated between 1955 and 1964. In the northern part were found seven rooms, presumably belonging to the seven "tongues" (national groups) of which the order of St John was composed. One of them is now used as a concert hall. These rooms and a very large hall (perhaps the dormitory) have been only partly excavated in order to avoid endangering the stability of the Citadel built over them. One part of the complex which has been completely exposed is the refectory, often erroneously called the crypt, because before the excavations it was entered by descending from a window at street level. It is a large rectangular hall with groined vaulting borne on three massive round piers. An indication of its date is provided by the fleur-de-lis carved on two consoles, which are associated with Louis VII of France's stay in the town in 1148. More important than such details, however, is the extraordinary spatial effect of this monumental structure. From the refectory we descend into a lighted underground passage, originally 350m/380yds long, which dates from the Persian period and was used by the Crusaders as a secret means of access to the harbor. It now runs for only 65m/70yds to the Bosta, a part of the building which was used by the Knights as a refuge and hospice for pilgrims.
Address: 10 Hahagana Street, Israel