Khan al-Umdan, the hostel of the pillars, is one of the most impressive buildings in the old city of Acre. It is located near the port and was used for storage of goods and a night hostel for the merchants. In the Crusaders times (12th-13th C AD), before the Khan was built, the place was the center of the Royal Cathena quarter. It was the probable site of the “Court of the Chain” which adjudicated cases of maritime commerce. Map.
Also, at the site was an internal anchorage of the port of Akko. The Templars also built an underground tunnel from this port to their fortress on the south-west side. The hostel was built in 1784-5 by the Governor of Acre, Ahmed Jezzer Pasha, as one of his projects of improvements in the city.
The hostel was built on part of the inner harbor. In the Napoleon maps, used at the siege of 1799, the site still appeared as an inner port. It was called initially Khan el-Jezzer, named after the Governor. Soon the hostel was known as Khan el-Umdan – the hostel of the pillars.
The magnificent courtyard is dominated by these pillars: there are 40 marble pillars that were brought from the ruins of Caesarea, and possibly Atlit as well. Due to its proximity to the port, merchandise of the maritime import-export was stored at the Turkish times.
It was also used by the merchants as a hostel. Nowadays, the khan is a tourist spot. It is also used as a open air stage during the festivals in the city, such as the Theater festival during the month of October.