The Crusaders account for only about one twentieth of the long history of the walled port of Akko, but the imprint of their passage is more enduring than that of any other occupant. Beneath a thin veneer of modernity, often no more than a coat of whitewash, it is still a medieval city. The logic of the Crusaders’ planning commanded respect, while the strength of their constructions made other options unviable.
Egyptian execration texts from about 1800BC are the first to mention Akko. The oldest city is Tel el – Fukhar, just east of the railway line on route 85. Its location on a river at the junction of the Way of the Sea and another trade route reaching into Syria made it one of the area’s principal coastal cities. Its strategic importance, both military and commercial, became progressively more evident and in the C4 BC it assumed the primacy that Tyre and Sidon had once enjoyed. The Hellenistic character of the city became more pronounced after the visit of Alexander the Great in 332 BC.
In the struggle for power, which followed the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Akko came under Egyptian control. In 63 BC Pompey gave the city its independence. For nearly 300 years it counted its years from the visit of Julius Caesar in 47 BC.
Akko surrendered to Saladin without a battle in 1187. The Crusader presence in the Holy Land was reduced to Tyre, but reinforcements arrived in 1191 under Richard the Lion-Heart of England and Philip of France. These enabled the Crusaders to pursue the siege and still hold off Saladin’s counter-attacks; for a year he had pinned the army of Tyre against the walls of the city. Victory came quickly and the city became the Latin Kingdom for just 100 years. The space within the original wall (just inside the present wall) soon proved to be insufficient and new walls were built enclosing an area three times as great as the walled city of today.
Source: The Holy Land by Jerome Murphy- O’Connor