Khan al-Umdan which means “Inn of the Columns”; is the largest and best-preserved caravanserai in Israel. Located in the Old City of Acre. Furthermore, it is one of the prominent projects constructed during the rule of Ahmed Jezzar Pasha in Galilee, under the Ottoman era. Being one of four Khans in Acre; Khan al-Umdan was built in 1784 on the place of the Royal Customs house of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Due to its plethora of columns the khan was named Khan al-Umdan which means “Inn of the Columns”. In other words, it incorporates forty columns made of granite that were taken from Caesarea; Atlit, and the ruins of Crusader monuments in Acre itself.
More About Khan al-Umdan
Due to its proximity to the port, Khan al-Umdan has been an important trading spot throughout its history. Merchants arriving at Acre used the khan as a warehouse while the second floor functioned as a hostel. Camel caravans once brought produce and grain from Galilean villages to the city’s markets and port. The khan later gained importance to the Baháʼí Faith (as the Khán-i-‘Avámid) as it was the site where Baha’ullah used to receive guests, and later the site for a Baháʼí school.
In 1906 a clock tower was added adjacent to the main entrance to the Khan to commemorate the silver jubilee of the rule of Ottoman sultan Abd al-Hamid II. It is similar to the Jaffa Clock Tower, a building dedicated to the same purpose, along with five more towers in Ottoman Palestine (in Jerusalem, Haifa; Safed; Nablus, and possibly Nazareth) and over a hundred across the entire empire.
On my tours of the Galilee, I like to include Acre; and on the way, I stop next to the Khan. There is a future plan to turn it into a boutique hotel. Nowadays it’s just left a little neglected and it is not populated at the moment.