In continuation of my blog series on epic places that helped inspire the setting for Disorder of War, I had to cover Akko next. It is without a doubt one of the most incredible locations on the planet! I briefly had the privilege of living within the Old City walls of this ancient bastion, and the stories of its epic battles and legendary inhabitants can still be read in the worn rock of its fortifications.
Akko is one of the longest settled locations on the planet and has been a key port on the trade routes between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Records of the city go back all the way to ancient Assyria and Egypt under the Pharaohs. It passed from ruler to ruler, until finally it has become a tourist destination and a Holy site for the Baha’i Faith.
The massive city gates have a palpable presence, and I could not help but to remember all those who must have fallen at that very threshold over thousands of years. Akko has not just seen battles, its seen battles within battles. It was first conquered during the crusades by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem after a four year siege. It was then taken by the famous Saladin. Guy of Lusignan (ever watch Kingdom of Heaven? He’s the crazy ginger fellow) tried to besiege the city, but was besieged himself by Saladin until King Richard the Lionhearted came to his aid. So to recap: Akko was besieged by Guy who was besieged by Saladin who was besieged by Richard!
Imagine what it must have been like for one of those poor bastards serving as a foot soldier on either side! Sickness, confusion, uncertainty, and brutal combat made up every waking moment for years. The leadership of both Saladin and Richard are fascinating to think about as well. The charisma and cojones it took to keep their respective forces together under those conditions was nothing short of miraculous.
If that’s not a badass enough of a history Akko also served as headquarters for the Order of the Knights Hospitaller and as a regional headquarters for the Mamluks. Not enough famous badasses for you? Napoleon also besieged the city on his way through Syria but gave it up to the Turks.
Akko is one of those incredible places so chock full of human struggle yet blessed with epic beauty that it stands out in history and in memory. It is important not to trivialize the suffering that has occurred there, but at the same time it is amazing place for the imagination.