afterward called Ptolemais, and now Akka by the Arabs, and Acre by the Turks. It was given to the tribe of Asher, Judges 1:31
. Christianity was planted here at an early period, and here St. Paul visited the saints in his way to Jerusalem, Acts 21:7
. It is a seaport of Palestine, thirty miles south of Tyre, and, in the first partition of the holy land, belonged to the tribe of Asher; but this was one of the places out of which the Israelites could not drive the primitive inhabitants. In succeeding times it was enlarged by the first Ptolemy, to whose lot it fell, and who named it after himself, Ptolemais.
This city, now called Acre, which, from the convenience of its port, is one of the most considerable on the Syrian coast, was, during almost two centuries, the principal theatre of the holy wars, and the frequent scene of the perfidies and treacheries of the crusaders.
Among its antiquities, Dr. E. D. Clarke describes the remains of a very considerable edifice, exhibiting a conspicuous appearance among the buildings on the north side of the city. "In this structure the style of the architecture is of the kind we call Gothic. Perhaps it has on that account borne among our countrymen the appellation of ‘King Richard's Palace,' although, in the period to which the tradition refers, the English were hardly capable of erecting palaces, or any other buildings of equal magnificence. Two lofty arches, and part of the cornice, are all that now remain to attest the former greatness of the superstructure. The cornice, ornamented with enormous stone busts, exhibiting a series of hideous distorted countenances, whose features are in no instances alike, may either have served as allusions to the decapitation of St. John, or were intended for a representation of the heads of Saracens suspended as trophies upon the walls." Maundrell and Pococke consider this building to have been the church of St. Andrew; but Dr. E. D. Clarke thinks it was that of St. John, erected by the Knights of Jerusalem, whence the city changed its name of Ptolemais for that of St. John d'Acre. He also considers the style of architecture to be in some degree the original of our ornamented Gothic, before its translation from the holy land to Italy, France, and England.
Mr. Buckingham, who visited Acre in 1816, says, "Of the Canaanitish Accho it would be thought idle perhaps to seek for remains; yet some presented themselves to my observation so peculiar in form and materials, and of such high antiquity, as to leave no doubt in my own mind of their being the fragments of buildings constructed in the earliest ages.
"Of the splendour of Ptolemais, no perfect monument remains; but throughout the town are seen shafts of red and grey granite, and marble pillars. The Saracenic remains are only to be partially traced in the inner walls of the town; which have themselves been so broken down and repaired, as to leave little visible of the original work; and all the mosques, fountains, bazaars, and other public buildings, are in a style rather Turkish than Arabic, excepting only an old, but regular and well-built khan or caravanserai, which might perhaps be attributed to the Saracen age. The Christian ruins are
altogether gone, scarcely leaving a trace of the spot on which they stood."
Acre has been rendered famous in our own times by the successful resistance made by our countryman Sir Sydney Smith, aided by the celebrated Djezzar Pasha, to the progress of the French under Buonaparte. Since this period, the fortifications have been considerably increased; and although to the eye of an engineer they may still be very defective, Acre may be considered as the strongest place in Palestine.
Mr. Conner says, on the authority of the English consul, that there are about ten thousand inhabitants in Acre, of whom three thousand are Turks, and the remainder Christians, chiefly Catholics.