If you are in the northern part of Old Akko, you cannot miss the imposing building which stands atop the ruins of a 12th-century former Crusader fortress. Known colloquially as the Citadel, it once served as a saraya (government building) for Akko’s rulers during the Ottoman era. Today, visitors can walk through an impressive museum dedicated to the hundreds of members of Jewish underground organizations like the Haganah, Irgun, Etzel, and Lehi who were imprisoned here during the British Mandate, a period of British military rule which lasted for roughly 30 years until 1948.
The museum also recounts the story and struggle of the Jewish Resistance Fighters who were imprisoned because they dared to defend the Jewish settlement and their right to establish a national home in the Land of Israel. Visitors will be introduced to how the prison was established, and about the first prisoner, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and the defenders of Jerusalem imprisoned with him in 1920. The museum also features the story of the Olei Hagardom — nine prisoners sentenced to death and subsequently hanged in the Akko prison (1938-1947). Learn about the famous prison break in May 1947, as well as the backstories behind the central groups of prisoners, prison life, and much more.
The museum features interactive displays with original and reconstructed exhibits. Visitors can tour the prison cells and gain an understanding of the prison’s rich history. They will also experience the harrowing stories of the underground groups and modern Israel’s struggles as a nascent nation. These stories underscore the values of the underground fighters through themes such as Zionism and love of one’s homeland, valor, and sacrifice. A typical tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and should be arranged in advance.
The museum offers far more than meets the eye. Visitors will discover an eternal memorial to the brave souls whose love for their land and its people helped to pave the way for the modern State of Israel.
Discover the beginnings of an independent Israel at the Underground Prisoners Museum in Akko!
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