Hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, hundreds of years ago, the Knights Templar—a Catholic military organization founded in the 12th century that went on crusades across Europe—built expansive tunnels to help their soldiers get around undetected in the Middle East.
The secrets of their networks are still being uncovered, even to this day. While their castles have been used for generations, some of the tunnels they carved out underground are still left to be discovered down the line. Take, for example, the Knights Templar tunnels discovered under the modern-day Israeli city of Acre.
The tunnels built under the ancient streets went on for hundreds of miles, helping the Knights Templar get around without detection or battling the elements and enemies.
When the military was disbanded by King Philip IV of France in the 14th century, many of their secrets were temporarily lost to history—including the tunnel leading to the order’s crucial port in Acre from a fortress built within the city.
In 1994, though, a woman living in the city asked a plumber to come and help her figure out why her drains were getting so blocked up. And instead of discovering a minor disturbance, he instead unearthed the beginnings of wide, expansive tunnels built during the crusader era, leading from under her home all the way to the port!
It took years, but the tunnel was eventually fully uncovered and properly restored. Even despite the lack of modern-era construction engineering and technology that would have left the Knights with a painstaking task burrowing and building underground, the secret pathway is massive and meticulous; even by modern standards, it’s a fascinating work of art.
Nowadays, the tunnels have been opened to the public as another way to view the extensive, incredible history of the area. Tourists can wander and look at the remarkable craftsmanship, learning about the history of the city’s capture by the crusaders before they eventually fell and were disbanded by their own pope.
It may have been 700 years since the tunnels were used for their true purpose. But for Israeli tourists and explorers alike, they’re still a gorgeous site to behold!
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Author: Catherine Bolton