There are mythical cities which can boast of having been commercial epicentres in his days. However, it is also likely that they suffered great religious wars, giving rise to many stories and tales. Among these metropolises is Acre, an ancient city which among its ruins hid an immense Templar Tunnel.
The Templars were a Catholic military organization founded in the 12th century that participated in crusades across Europe and the Near East. Hundreds of years ago, they built a vast underground tunnel to help their soldiers move undetected and thus transport their relics.
Templar Tunnel in Acre, Israel. Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons
This underground passage located in the city of Acre, in what is now Israel, was used by the Knights Templar when the city was under the rule of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, serving as strategic passage to connect the Temple Palace to the port.
The mysterious tunnels of the Templars
After the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladinin 1187, the Templars settled in Saint Jean d’Acre, making the city its main center. They built their neighborhood in the southwest part of the city, where order palacewhich adjoined the sea line.
Despite the fact that the remains of his city have not survived to our days, we have a story of a Templar, who described it as the the most powerful fortress in the city. Its entrance was protected by 2 towers with walls 8.5 meters thick. On each side of the towers, there were 2 smaller ones, and each tower was surmounted by a golden lion.
In addition, the Templars needed a strategic connection between the palace and the port, so they built secret tunnels of 150 meters. The tunnels were dug in natural stone, with a semicircular arch at its ceiling, supported by a layer of cut stone.
The fall of San Juan d’Acre
Following the siege of a gigantic Muslim army, San Juan de Acre was the last Christian city of importance to fall in the Holy Land. On April 5, 1291, the Templars fought to defend what is now Israel, until the 7th, when the fiercest assault began. Weeks later they lost the city, the battle and ultimately the war.
Therefore, the city became the property of the Muslims and the sultan, Al-Ashraf Khalil, ordered the destruction of the walls, fortresses and other buildings. The historian, Roger Crowleywrote in his book “The Cursed Tower: The Crusaders’ Last Battle for the Holy Land”, that the Muslim siege was barbaric.
The city was burnt down, ensuring that Christians could no longer use it. Thus, Acre lost its status and remained forgotten. until the end of the 18th century.
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The order left Acre in 1291 when the city was lost and moved its headquarters to Limassol on the island of Cyprus. In barely a decade, its foothold in the region had disappeared.
With the complete loss of control of the Holy Land by the Crusaders, support for the military order began to decline, along with the fortunes of the knights. When he King Philip IV of France seized power, the royal family was deeply in debt to the Templars, but the king decided he had nothing to give back if there was no order.
Rumors spread about the erosion of public confidence in the knights and without this support the king arrested and tortured members of the order, producing false confessions for the benefit of the knights. Pope Clement Vwhich officially dissolved the Templars in 1312.
Templars. credit history
The Templar tunnel is discovered
Thus, the Templar Tunnel remained hidden for the following centuries and it was only at the Twentieth century, in 1994, when it was rediscovered. A woman who lived just above the tunnel was having problems with a clogged drain. After contracting the plumbing service and beginning to investigate the problem, they came across the structure.
Interior of the Templar Tunnel. Credit: State of Israel/Wikimedia Commons.
They immediately identified the passage as the Templar Tunnel. They cleaned it up, added walkways, lights and access. In 1999, the place was opened to the public, becoming a tourist attraction.
An interesting story that demonstrates the strategic ability of one of the most important armies in history. Moreover, the Templar Tunnel shows the incredible architectural ability of the time.
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