• Issue: March 1967
  • Designer: O. Adler
  • Plate no.: 191 - 193
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photogravure


The port of Akko lies within a small creek at the northern end of Haifa bay. In ancient times Akko harbor was an important trade-link between the Holy Land and other Mediterranean countries. In 66-67 CE, Roman legions, sent to subdue the Jewish forces fortified in the Galilean mountains, landed there. Under Arab domination Akko remained an important port; the Moslem geographer El-Mukadassi relates in detail the construction of a new harbor in the creek of Akko by his own grandfather, a civil engineer, in the year 880.

Akko was the main port of the Christian kingdom under Crusader rule in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and their sea-link with the European countries from which they came. Famous Jewish rabbis also landed there at that time, the best known of them being Maimonides, in whose memory there is a plaque on the wall facing the jetty. This depicts in mosaic stones the harbor of Akko and has the inscription: "In this harbor, on the third day of the month of Sivan 4926 [16 May 1165] landed the learned Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, the eagle and stronghold of Judaism."

All that remains of the port's eventful past, besides the fishermen's jetty from the Turkish era, are the ruins of a Crusader breakwater and lighthouse, and older ruins beneath the sea. Recently the Israel Society for Submarine Archaeology, in collaboration with a British group, has started to investigate the harbor. The Israel Government built a pier at Akko port.

top top


Caesarea's port was established together with the town by King Herod the Great, in 20 BCE, to the glory of his beloved lord and master, Augustus, Caesar of Rome. Herod spared no efforts to make the port large and beautiful, as Josephus Flavius reports: "However by dint of expenditure and enterprise, the king triumphed over Nature and constructed a harbor ... including other deep roadsteads within its recesses. Notwithstanding the totally recalcitrant nature of the site, he grappled with the difficulties so successfully, that the solidity of his masonry defied the sea while its beauty was such as if no obstacle had existed" (Wars 121, 5-7).

At Caesarea harbor the Roman legions first came ashore, and in the years 66-70 CE sallied forth from there to assault and subdue the Jewish strongholds.

During the remainder of the Roman period Caesarea was the capital of the foreign rulers and its harbor was the main gateway to the metropolis of their empire, and to the lands bordering the Mediterranean. The harbor of Caesarea was destroyed together with the town, but the extent of the ruins testifies to its importance in times past.

The Israel Society for Submarine Archaeology maintains a station on Caesarea beach for the study of the remains of the harbor buried in the sand beneath the sea.

top top


Jaffa (Yafo) is one of the most ancient ports in the world, dating back to biblical times when it was the gateway to the capital, Jerusalem, about 70 kilometers inland. It was to Jaffa that Hiram, King of Tyre, sent cedars from the Lebanon to King Solomon for the construction of the First Temple, about 960 BCE: "And we will cut wood out of Lebanon as much as thou shalt need; and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem" (II Chronicles 2:16).

Five centuries later, again through Jaffa's roadway, cedar trunks were hoisted up the mountains to build the Second Temple: "And to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa..." (Ezra 3:7).

Jonah the Prophet fled from the presence of the Lord to Jaffa, and sought refuge on board a galley about to sail for the far-away land of Tarshish.

Later, at the time of the Jewish War against Rome, the harbor and the sea of Jaffa saw bitter fighting and much bloodshed, when in about 67 BCE the seafaring Jews in their fortified vessels attacked the Roman ships.

During the Middle Ages Jaffa was the main port of arrival of both Jewish and Christian pilgrims. At times they were made to pay a special toll tax to the Moslem guards before they were allowed to tread the soil of the Holy Land.

At the beginning of the Zionist era most Jewish pioneers entered the country by way of Jaffa, which was the country's main port for many years until the larger and better equipped harbor of Haifa was constructed during the British Mandate.

top top

Ancient Ports of Israel