acre road 298 88.
(photo credit: Old Acre Development Company)
A major Crusader road that served as the primary gateway for thousands of Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land a millennium ago and was recently uncovered in the Old City of Acre will be opened to the public in the coming months, officials said Sunday.
The underground thoroughfare, known as the Southern Road, cuts across the Old City from north to south, passing through the Hospitaller Quarter. It was rediscovered several years ago and is currently being preserved and restored, said Israel Antiquities Authority archeologist Eliezer Stern, who headed the dig at the site. He said the road would open to the public this year.
The road served as "the main terminal" for Christian pilgrims during the Crusader Period (1095-1291 CE), who would be sorted into groups at the site before setting off to tour the Holy Land.
Acre was conquered by the Crusaders in 1104.
The street, which is 600 meters long and eight meters wide, is paved with stone tablets.
Archaeologists have unearthed a 50-meter-long section.
Dozens of Crusader symbols engraved on the walls of the road - such as boats, crosses and shields - are still visible.
A row of shops was also uncovered, as well as a monumental stone gate, which enabled the Knights Hospitallers to close the road at night and during emergencies.
The ancient port city has been designated a UNESCO heritage site.
The restoration is being carried out by the Antiquities Authority in conjunction with the Old Acre Development Company, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Tourism.