Templars: the incredible discovery of a network of secret tunnels that remained hidden for 700 years
In the Middle Ages, the Crusaders of the Latin West left an unforgettable mark on the cities of the Near East, building castles and fortresses. The Templars had the resource 700 years ago.
According to a recent discovery by archaeologists, they have built a network of secret tunnels under the city of Acre in northern Israel. Those who also called themselves “Poor Knights of Christ and of Solomon’s Temple” took advantage of these tunnels to bring their treasures to the guardhouse.
Even today many of these castles exist and in some cases remain in service. The Krak des Chevaliers, perhaps the most iconic Crusader castle, was even occupied and used as a military base during the recent Syrian conflict. Many of these impressive structures have yet to reveal all of their secrets. Even at the end of the 20th century, cross structures were still discovered in the Levant, including the “Templar Tunnel” 350 meters under the modern city of Acre. These findings continue to shed light on this fascinating period in Middle Eastern history.
They were a military religious order, originally founded to provide security for the steady stream of pilgrims who made the dangerous journey from Western Europe to the Holy Land.
According to Dan Jones (historian), they were so named because their original headquarters was next to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, and in the 12th and 13th centuries they played an important role in defining success and political and military failures of the Crusader States in the Levant.
Acre was a Mediterranean port and its control was to control access to the rest of the region. But it was under constant threat, both from enemies outside its walls and those inside. This may explain why the Templars decided to build a secret underground tunnel, leading from the fortress to the port. This would ensure a quick escape for all residents in the event that the city was overthrown and could provide a useful and secret channel for supplies if the city was under siege. In 1291, disaster struck. Acre was attacked and taken by the Mamluk ruler of Egypt, Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil. He ordered that the city be razed to prevent further Christian occupation.
This once crucial strategic port has fallen into insignificance.
In 1994, more than 700 years after the fall of the fortress, a startling discovery was made by a woman living in the modern city of Acre. When she sent a local plumber to investigate the cause of his blocked drains, he fell into a medieval tunnel that ran right under his house. Further excavations revealed that the tunnel was built during the Crusader period and ran all the way from the fortress to the port. This was an important find, as it is one of the few pieces of Crusader architecture in Acre that survived the invasion of the Mamluks.