Ahmed Pasha Al-Jazzar
Al-Jazzar (in Arabic: ‘The Cutter’) was a Bosnian officer who was appointed to rule Akko by the Ottomans. He was known for his cruelty, and especially for his habit of cutting his personnel’s organs, as he constantly suspected their loyalty. Nevertheless, his regime of terror guaranteed the needed discipline to fortify the city well and hold out against Napoleon’s attack on Akko in 1799 CE.
Completed in 1781, the mosque’s design echoes the famous ‘Hagia Sofia’ shrine in Istanbul, with pendentives supporting the main dome. The mosque is built over the ruins of the Crusaders-era ‘Santa Croce’ church, whose former cellars were turned into cisterns. Furthermore, the colonnade around the mosque re-uses many columns from Roman times. Inside is a beautifully restored preaching stand (minbar) next to mosque’s michrab. The walls are decorated with colored tiles bearing quotes from the Quran in delicate calligraphy. The Mosque’s green-domed and its slender minaret are possibly the most recognized landmark in Akko, visible also from miles outside the city. Al-Jazzar, and his adopted son, suleyman, are buried next to the mosque, in a double-domed structure.
Touring Al-Jazzar Mosque
Known among the locals as ‘Jama el-Basha’ (The Pasha’s mosque), Al-Jazzar mosque is open Saturday to Thursday to non-Muslims. Visitors are to dress modestly and take off their shoes. There is also an entry fee of about USD$3. Near the entrance is a classic Turkish style kiosk (Sabil) offering chilled fresh water for Muslim pilgrims and visitors.