The UNESCO city of Akko and the “Masada of the North” Yodefat.

The UNESCO’s approval isn’t given lightly and Akko, or Acre as it is also known, deserves the designation as a world cultural town.  There is a huge citadel with underground tunnels, halls, vaults, prisons, and watch towers connected to the city’s ramparts, which have been extensively restored.  There is a fully walled-in old city with a charming port, narrow alleys, markets, mosques, and khans (inns).  Akko was an entry point for pilgrims to the Holy Land throughout the ages.  Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, and Napoleon, to mention just a few – all left their mark on this city.  We spent the majority of the day strolling around looking at the sites.  Fascinating.

On the way back to Tiberius we took the back roads to see Tel Yodefat, the “Masada of the North” as the guidebook described it.  Just like in Masada near the Dead Sea, conflicts between Romans and Jews escalated into bloodshed.  Zealots were hiding out in Yodefat under the leadership of Josephus Flavius, whom I knew only as a Roman historian.  He seems to have been a most colorful 1st century figure!  He was one of the ten chosen to kill his fellow rebels and ended up as the last that would have to kill himself.  He chose instead to live and to switch sides!  He must have convinced the Romans of his qualities since not only did he survive; he rose in the Roman ranks to high esteem.  His personal life must have been equally colorful as he is reported to have had four wives.  He married the last one (after divorcing the third) at age 75 and fathered two more children with her; not bad!  I am not sure how I would have felt about him if I had been one of his fellow rebels though…

Tel Yodefat was unassuming and pretty.  The landscape that surrounds it is a charming one with gently rolling green hills, filled with trees, olive plantations, deep valleys with agriculture and clusters of white dwellings or small towns.  What a contrast to the barren desert just three hours south of here.

Shrubs and trees are in bloom now and it is a wonderful time to be here to see the burst of colors:  Red, pink, yellow, purple, and white are the dominant colors.  I wish I could describe the fragrances; lavender, jasmine, lemon!  The wafts come in from everywhere expected and as a surprise and I wish I could capture them as I can capture the colors.

Getting lost is part of our experience here and after a hair-raising zigzag through a hill town with streets hardly wide enough for one car, we finally were on our way back to Tiberius.  The town was filled with people ready for the start of Independence Day.  Fireworks and water shows drew the crowds out into the streets and to the promenade along the Sea of Galilee.

We watched some of it from our hotel balconies.

Good night.

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  1. Hi, Elisabeth!
    You wrote: “…conflicts between Romans and Jews escalated into bloodshed.” Shouldn’t that more accurately read: “Jewish resistance to Roman oppression escalated into bloodshed”??? Or “Romans slaughter Jews”? Or something like that. How would it sound if someone wrote: “Conflicts between the Germans and the Jews escalated into bloodshed in the Warsaw Ghetto.” Journalists need to be careful of such phraseology. Just last week we saw this error in all of the standard media when they reported the bloodshed in Egypt as “12 dead in sectarian clashes in Egypt”. No! This was a Moslem pogrom against the Christians, not a “sectarian clash”.