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Acre: Religious and prayer sites

The Ramchal Synagogue
During the 16th – 18th centuries the Jewish community had two synagogues in Acre: the Achav Synagogue and the Ramchal Synagogue, named after the rabbi known as the Ramchal, who lived in Acre between 1743 and 1747. The Ramchal Synagogue was the larger and more elegant of the two. In 1758 the Bedouin ruler of Acre, Dahar El-Omar, took over the synagogue and built the El-Mualek Mosque on top of it. In place of the synagogue the Jews received a small building north of the El-Mualek Mosque.
In recent years the synagogue was renovated and opened to the public.
Opening hours:
Sunday through Thursday from 08:30 to 17:00
Fridays and holiday eves from 08:30 to 14:00
Saturday – closed
The Tunisian Synagogue – Ohr Torah
Also known as Jariva, after the elegant synagogue of Jariva in Tunisia. Tradition has it that the first inhabitants of the island of Jariva were members of the tribe of Zebulon, who arrived there in the days of King David and King Solomon and built the Harat El-Cabira (the big quarter). After the destruction of the First Temple, priests came and set up Harat El-Zaira (the small quarter), where the Jariva Synagogue is located. This is one of the most famous synagogues in North Africa. Legend has it that a Tunisian synagogue was built there over 2,400 years ago and that the priests brought with them one of the doors of the Temple and used it as part of the synagogue.
A different legend claims that beneath the hall of the synagogue there is a rock on which the following words are carved: Yoav, son of Zroya reached this place.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance through Zion Badash, the treasurer of the synagogue, at 04-9915979.
The Carmelite Church
It is evident from documents and maps of Acre that in the middle of the 13th century the Carmelites had a church in the Monmizar Quarter in Acre, near the seashore. When the Crusaders were banished in 1291 the Carmelites also left the city and no trace of the members of the order were left in the Land of Israel. In the first half of the 17th century the Carmelites returned to the Land of Israel, first to a plot of land on Mount Carmel, which was purchased in 1631 from the ruler at the time, Emir Turabi, and later the Carmelites began operating fro their base in Haifa and in Acre.
The Maronite Church
The Maronite Church is currently situated in the northwestern part of Acre, near Saint Andreum Church (Greek Orthodox) and the Dame de la Nazareth Monastery. The Maronites, who were banished from Acre following the Crusades, apparently returned there during the rule of Facher El-Din the second.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance through the contact, Father Afif, at 04-9912039.
The Franciscan Terra Sancta Church
The importance of Acre for the Franciscans stems from the fact that according to their beliefs Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of their order, visited there in 1219 – 1220
In 1217 Father Elia Da Cortona established the first Franciscan monastery in Israel there. When Acre fell in the hands of the Mamelukes in the year 1291, the members of the order fled from the monastery.
According to the chronicles of the Franciscans, in the year 1620 Facher El-Din the second permitted them officially to settle in Acre and to establish a church and an inn for their use in the city. According to a record from the year 1673, the church was named for Saint John the Baptist.
The San Andreas Church
In the early 18th century a tendency to accept the sovereignty of the Pope in Rome increased among Orthodox Christians in the countries of the East (including the Land of Israel). Against this background a Greek-Orthodox community was established in Acre as well.
This community settled in the southwestern part of the city and built its church on the ruins of the Saint Andreas Church, from the Crusader Period.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance through the contacts, Michel Dachus and Father Andrei, at 04-9964082.
Saint John’s Church
Saint John’s Church currently stands next to the lighthouse of Acre and belongs to the Latin community (the Franciscans).
It is not clear when the church was built, although a text containing the date 1737 was found on the northern wall of the building. The church was renovated in the year 1947 and now serves as the only church of the Latin Catholic community in Acre.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance through the contact, Father Caorico, at 04-9910368 or 04-9917333.
Saint George’s Church
This Greek Orthodox Church was probably the first Christian house of worship built in Acre in the days of the Turks. The first evidence from the Ottoman Period of the monastery and the church of the Greek Orthodox in Acre is apparently that of the Minurite monk Eugene Roger, who visited the city in the year 1631.
Thirty-five years later the physician Gabriel Bremond of Marseilles visited Acre. Bremond stated that the Greek Orthodox that was once named after Saint Nicholas, which was built by Facher El-Din, had become the most beautiful of the churches in the Levant.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance by calling the contact, Father Caorico, at 04-9910563 or 04-9915029.
The El-Jazar Mosque
The El-Jazar Mosque, which is known in Arabic as Jama El Basha (the Mosque of the Pasha), was also known in the past by the name of Jama El Anwar (The Mosque of Lights), according to the donation document of El-Jazar. This is the largest mosque in Israel outside Jerusalem and the largest one of the mosques that were built in Israel in the days of the Turks. The building still dominates the Acre skyline.
According to the text in Arabic engraved over the doorway, the mosque was consecrated in the year 1196 of the Hegira, which corresponds to the year 1781/82 AD, i.e. in the early years of the rule of El-Jazar Pasha in Acre.
The El-Bachar or El-Mina Mosque (formerly the Sanan Pasha Mosque)
The first Moslem house of worship in Acre that was mentioned in the writings of the Ottoman Period is the Sanan Pasha Mosque, which was near Khan El-Faranj. It is estimated that the mosque was built in the late 16th century.
The Zawayat El-Shadlia
The founder of the Order of Dervishes in Acre, Sheikh Ali Nur El-Din El Yisroti (known as El Magrabi) was born in Tunis in the year 1208 of the Hegira (1793). The sheikh claimed that the prophet Yunas (Jonah) was revealed to him in a dream and ordered him to travel to Acre in order to disseminate his religious doctrine.
Sheikh Ali Nur El-Din arrived in Acre in the year 1266 of the Hegira (1849).
At first he prayed at El-Zeituna Mosque and later he built his own Zawaya in Tarshicha. A zawaya is not a mosque in the accepted sense of the word, but rather a place of retreat and communion for dervishes and sheiks, where they study, pray and also eat and drink. In the year 1862 he built the big zawaya, which still stands in Acre.
Zawayat El-Shadlia is located south of the fortress, between the refectorium (dining room) of the Hospitallers and the Hamam El-Basha bathhouse.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance by calling the contact, Rais Omar, at 04-9910193.
The El-Zeituna Mosque
The El-Zeituna Mosque is located south of Zawayat El-Shadlia, at the place where the Maria of Jehoshafat Church stood during the Crusader Period, south of the Hospitallers Quarter. According to widespread tradition, the name of the mosque is associated with the olive trees that used to grow in its courtyard. The mosque was built in the period of Dahar El-Omar by Haj Muhammad El-Zadaki, who also founded the Wakf associated with it. At first the wakf was managed by the family of Sheikh Nur El-Zadaki and, in the years 1316 – 1323 of the Hegira (1898 – 1905) by the El-Aravi family.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance by calling the contact, Ibrahim Kandil, at 04-9912546.
The El-Majdela Mosque
The El-Majdela Mosque (the Mosque of the Sons of the Tower), was built in the year 1224 of the Hegira (1809) by the Mameluke, Ali Aga, who was Suleiman’s deputy and in charge of the Walaya Treasury and of managing the maters of the court of the Pasha.
The mosque is located in the northwest of the city, opposite the house of Ali Aga and slightly east of it. In the year 1810 Ali Aga added a minaret to the mosque, thus completing its construction. The name of the mosque comes from the name of the village of Majdal, many of whose residents came to live in this neighborhood of Acre.
The El-Mualek Mosque (the ancient synagogue of Acre)
The El-Mualek Mosque, which is also known in Arabic as the Mosque of Tahar El-Omar, is located slightly north of Khan El-Omdan, The mosque was built in a courtyard and included two buildings: the ancient building formerly used as the ancient synagogue of the Jewish community of Acre, and the new building atop which the base of the minaret is now located.
This building was erected by Sheikh Suhil, who died in the year 1161 of the Hegira (the year which almost fully corresponds to the year 1748).
The El-Ramal Mosque (The El-Shabi Mosque)
The first mosque that was built in Acre was the mosque of the sea. In the year 1114 of the Hegira (1702 AD), with the increase in the population of the city, a second mosque was built in Acre for the convenience of the believers who did not live near the seashore.
The mosque was built by Haj Muhammad Ibn El-Sheikh El-Shabi, and, at the time, included the Al-Shabi bathhouse, a coffee house, storerooms, shops and more. His cousin, Sheikh Salach Ibn El-Sheikh Hussein, was appointed to supervise the Wakf and the mosque.
Visits to the site may be arranged in advance by calling the contact, Ibrahim Kandil, at 04-9912546.
*Info courtesy of akko.org 

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