This Greek Catholic Church, built in 1765, is located on the southern-western side of the old city of Acre, over the ruins of a Crusader church.
This Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church, built in 1765, is located on the southern-western side of the old city of Acre. It is named after St. Andrews, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The church was built in the remains of a Crusader church.
St. Andrews church is located on the southern-western side of the old city of Acre, at Philippe Auguste street, north of the Templars tunnel.
History of the place:
The Crusaders of the Templars order settled in Acre in the 12th century AD after the fall of Jerusalem, and built a fortress on the south-west corner of the old city of Acre. Adjacent to their palace (“Templum”) they built the Church of Santa Anna, named after the Mother of the Virgin Mary, who according to tradition came from the Galilee ( Sepphoris). The 12th C church was rebuilt and enlarged in the 13th C as a grand Gothic Cathedral.
In 1291 the Mamlukes destroyed the city, including most of the Crusaders structures. The church was destroyed, but the battered 2 story shell and arched halls remained standing until the 18th century.
The Greek Catholic church (Melkites) split from the Greek Orthodox church in 1724.
In 1765 the church was rebuilt over the ruins of the medieval church. The builders reused the stones and the remains of the earlier church, making it difficult today to identify the Crusader structure.
A sign near above the door near the entrance to the church shows the year of 1802, when the Greek Catholic Archbishopric was founded at the church. It later moved to Haifa.
- Modern times
The church of St. Andrews is open to the public, and serves the Greek Catholic Melkite community. Its second floor is still in ruins, and the the community intends to repair the rooms.
Recent excavations and researches attempt to rediscover the Crusader structure (see link).
(a) View from the west:
The south western side of the old city, where the lighthouse is located, is seen in the photo below. The Church of St. Andrews is located behind the first rows of houses, and its bell tower can be seen in the right background above the roof the houses.
Click on the photos to view in higher resolution…
After entering a small door inside an alley, the corridor opens to the narthex, the outside corridor. The black door on the edge of the hall is the entrance to the Greek Catholic Archbishopric. The entrance to the Cathedral is on the edge of the hall, on its left side. A small courtyard is located on the far right side.
This is the view of the interior of this beautiful church.
The staircase is the place of the choirs.
A closer view of the nave (hall of the church) . The “Templon”, the decorated covered screen with icons and paintings, separates the hall and the altar behind the center table. There are two side doors that lead to the back.
A detail of the “Templon”, decorated with icons and paintings, separates the hall of the church (the Nave) and the holy place behind it (the altar, or sanctuary).
The icons are of Christ in the center, Virgin Mary to the left, Apostles, John the Baptist, founders of the Church, Saints and prophet Elijah. They are ordered in sequence that is common to all Melkite churches – the most Holy are in the center above the entrance to the altar, and all are facing the center. The names above each icon are written in Arabic, and where crafted in Syria.
Baptisms and other services are conducted at the church, as seen below.
(f) Bell Tower:
Near the entrance to the Church are stairs that lead to the second floor. That section is closed and requires extensive repairs. On top of the roof is the bell tower.
On the side of the stairs, leading up to the second floor, is the bell that once was hanging in the bell tower.
(g) Court Yard:
On the west side of the church, facing the sea, is a small courtyard, with steps to rooms on the second floor. Embedded into the wall is a segment of a head of an ancient statue. Some consider it the head of John the Baptist, which belonged to the Crusader church that preceded the existing church.
- St. Andrew – the apostle
- Excavations at St. Andrews – Eliezer Stern, 2007 (pdf in Hebrew; page 18)
BibleWalks.com – walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land
This page was last updated on May 18, 2008