Sunday, June 2, 2013

I took too many pictures in Akko

Last weekend we went to Akko, which is a very very very old city.  According to Wikipedia, the first settlers there were around 3000 BC, and it's one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the region.

We took a shared taxi to get there from Haifa, which was pretty easy and cost 14 shekels each one way (just under $4 each).  Then we walked to the old city and passed this cool thing on the way there:

Approaching the old city, there were some cool shapes on the walkway along the beach.  There was an octopus:

And a starfish (Mom, I thought you would like this):

And a bunch more.  They had a lot of creative sea-themed ideas.  Here's a view of the approach to the old city, where you can see some more modern walls around it in the background:

Here's a close-up of that statue.  I'm not sure what's going on with it, and now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I didn't stand in front of it and do the same thing.  Is it punching an octopus?

The Acco Lighthouse:

A cute little church peeking over a wall:

The city is surrounded on 3 sides by water, so they only needed to build 1 wall to protect it from the land side.  But there are still walls on some of the water sides.  Here's Sam standing on one:

From standing on there you can also see the top of one of the many mosques in the old city.  I don't know why, but it seems like they're always green.  I suspect green has some significance in Islam.  But I thought it was also funny how much technology was on the roof.  You can see solar panels and a solar water heater, plus a satellite dish, among the things I can identify:

The first official tourist thing we did was the Templars Tunnel.  I think this was used way back when to sneak soldiers and horses and supplies in from the secret part of the port into the walled city.  But be careful, because:

Here's Sam about to enter the tunnel:

Here I am demonstrating the need to bend:

Inside the tunnel:

I forget what this place was called, and it was closed so I took this picture through the gate.  But I think it was a big marketplace during the time it was used:

A big open area where you can see the green roofs and towers of two more mosques:

A funny spelling of falafel:

We got recommendations of where to eat from my coworker Hadas.  One of the places she recommended was closed because it was Saturday (Shabbat), so we ate at the other one, called Hummus Suhila.  It was quite good, and it was the first time we had had hot hummus!  We got one with chickpeas and one with mushrooms and onions.  The mushroom one was more delicious:

We went into the fanciest mosque in the old city.  Luckily I had anticipated this and dressed sufficiently modestly (long skirt and shoulders covered - pants would have been ok too, and I didn't need to cover my head).  Isn't it beautiful?  It looks like a tropical paradise when you're in there:

Here's their mini-mosque (probably not the technical term) where people wash their hands and feet before going into the mosque:

A view from the other direction:

The entrance to the mosque had beautiful stonework.  I always am a sucker for mosaic things!

Here's the inside of the mosque.  It has stained glass at the top center of each of the walls.  I don't know if this is intentional, but Sam and I were wondering if the pattern on the rug gets used for people reserving their spots for prayer, like when you have your normal parking space and it's not official but everyone in the neighborhood knows whose is whose:

A view of the side of the mosque (you can see a guy doing something - maybe meditating? - on the ground on the right side of the picture):

The ceiling of the mosque had a dome with a walkway around the inside of it.  I would like to go on a walkway inside a dome sometime, I think that would be cool:

Here I am standing in front of a tiny door in the side of the entrance.  I'm not sure why it's so tiny.  Also check out the carving in Arabic above me:

Pretty flowers outside in the courtyard:

And here's a funny-looking plant that was also there:

That was only the first half or so.  Part 2 will be coming up soon!

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