Virtually across the street from the Mosque of Ahmed al Jezzar Pasha is this Subterranean Crusader City, the town’s unmissable site. In the entrance is a tourism information kiosk, where you can buy a city map and an entrance ticket.
The Crusaders built their fortified city atop what was left of the Roman city. The Ottomans, and especially Ahmed al Jezzar Pasha, built their city on top of the largely intact buildings of the Crusaders. In Ottoman times, the cavernous chambers here were used as a caravansary until Napoleon’s attack. In preparation for the defense of his city, Al-Jezzar Pasha ordered the walls heightened, and the Crusader rooms partially filled with sand and dirt, to better support the walls. Today, you get a good look at how the Crusaders lived and worked in the late 1100s, from the ruined Gothic church to the dungeons and massive gathering halls. A highlight is the Knights’ Halls, once occupied by the Knights Hospitalers of Saint John. In the ceiling of the hall, a patch of concrete marks the spot where Jewish underground members, imprisoned by the British in the citadel (directly above the hall), attempted to break out. Be sure to pick up a headset at the entrance so you understand the significance of what you’re seeing.
- Frommer's Staff