The land of Israel has thousands of years of history, stemming from prehistoric times. Every era has left its mark on the land and clues for telling it’s story for researchers to find and us to learn from. One of these eras was very prolific in its impact, and that would be the time of knights.
The first knights began in the 8th century underneath the reign of Charlemagne. They were associated with being among the best soldiers and equestrians. They were derived from concepts of Greek and Roman soldiers and centurions. There were different orders of knights and they made an impact on the history of Europe as well as Israel.
When the crusades began, knights were at the forefront of trying to win the Holy Land from the Muslims. They came and conquered the area multiple times, leaving a complicated history in their wake and a lot of history, artifacts and infrastructure that remains today.
So where can you see evidence of Knights in Israel?
Nimrod Castle was built as a strategic fortress in order to keep crusaders at bay. For a time though the crusaders took it and turned it into a fortress. For periods of time it went back and forth as to who was in control. There are still the great halls though that were built in crusader style and gives you the sense of knights walking through the fortress.
Perhaps no place in the Middle East has as many markings of Knights in Israel as the city of Acre, also known as Akko. This port city has been around for thousands of years but really hit its peak during the Crusader period. Akko has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
There are Crusader buildings and ruins both above and below ground. These include large Knight’s Halls at the Hospitaller Fortress and the Templar Tunnels.
While not everyone makes the trip to Akko, if you have any interest in the history of Knights in Israel, it simply shouldn’t be missed.
The port city of Caesarea Maritima is famous in Christianity for being pivotal in the history of the faith. Not only is this the place where Gentiles were ‘grafted in”, where Paul was held prisoner, where the foundations of the church were laid as the faith grew, but also has been the location of profound findings, such as proof the Pontius Pilate really did exist.
In addition to this fascinating history, there is also the history of the Crusader era and Knights in Israel. If you look around you will see fortress walls built up. These were not ancient walls from the time of the Disciples, but instead were built up by the Knights with the backing of King Louis IX. The ruins also include a moat.
There’s always another layer to history when you are looking around Israel. Next time you are in Israel, be sure to look through the lens of all the historical periods!