Khan al-'Umdan
Acre, Israel
Khan al-Umdan, the grandest and best preserved khan in Acre, is located on the southwest corner of the old city abutting the sea and the port. It is one of the prominent projects constructed during the reign of Ahmad Jazzar Pasha. The pasha acquired the epithet of al-Jazzar (Arabic: the butcher) because of his whimsical cruelty to his subjects as well as to his family, close friends and advisors. He gained fame, however, as the person who managed to deter (with the assistance of the British Fleet) the armies of Napoleon from the sea shore of the Galilee. During his reign Acre grew significantly more prosperous and became known worldwide for the quality of its cotton and grain. Khan al-Umdan, refurbished to accommodate the growing needs brought by the expanding commerce, is one of al-Jazzar's principal construction projects in the city and the biggest khan in Israel. As all the other monumental projects of al-Jazzar, it is assumed that the design of the khan was done by the pasha himself.

The khan, which was estimated to have been built on the site of the Royal Customs house of the Crusader Kingdom, is a rectangular two-stories-high building enclosing a spacious internal courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard was built a pool made of Nazareth marble, and filled with water from the Kabri aqueduct. Flanking the courtyard on the ground floor from all four sides is an arcade of red and black granite columns. The arcade provides shelter from the harsh summer sun and enriches the courtyard with rhythms and interplays of light and shadow. Behind the arcade are storage spaces covered with barrel vaults. The second floor arcade is held by masonry piers and leads into small cross-vaulted guests' rooms. In 1906 a tall clock tower was built adjacent to the main entrance to the khan (on top of the north wing) to commemorate the silver jubilee of the rule of Ottoman sultan Abd al-Hamid the 2nd, along with many other clock towers around the Ottoman Empire.

The plethora of columns bestowed the khan the name "Khan al-Awamid" (Arabic: Hostel of Pillars). The columns were taken from Caesarea, Atlit and the ruins of Crusader monuments in Acre itself. The commercial activity in the khan seized as a result of the vast destruction brought to the city with the Egyptian conquest of 1832, even though the structure itself was not harmed by the attacks. The khan later gained importance to the Bahaii community as it was the site were Baha'ullah used to receive guest, and later the site for a Bahaii school.


Dichter, Bernhard. 2000. Akko-Sites from the Turkish Period. Haifa: University of Haifa, 72-79.

Lurie, Yehoshua. 2000. Acre-The Walled City: Jews among the Arabs, Arabs among the Jews. Tel Aviv: Yaron Golan Publication, 43.

Petersen, Andrew. 2001. A Gazetteer of Buildings in Muslim Palestine: Part 1.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 87-8.

Schur, Nathan. 1990. A History of Acre. Tel Aviv: Dvir Publishing House, 207-228.
Qurb al-Mina', Acre, Israel
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Associated Names
1785/1199 AH
Style Periods
Variant Names
Umdan Khan
Khan al-'Amdan
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