AcreTel AvivMasada

  • Issue: June 2007
  • Designer: Ronen Goldberg
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 686 (no phosphor bar) 687 (no phosphor bar)
    688 (no phosphor bar)
  • Sheet of 10 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

In 1972, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) ratified a convention to protect world heritage sites. In the context of this program, guidelines were drawn up to evaluate cultural and natural sites with outstanding universal value. Each country was requested to prepare a list of sites in its territory, to be reviewed annually by UNESCO's World Heritage Center. Those deemed worthy are added to the list of the UN World Heritage sites.

The government of Israel ratified the convention in 2000. Since then, the following sites in Israel have been added to the world list: Old City of Acre (2001); Masada (2001); White City of Tel Aviv –the Modern Movement (2003); Biblical tels – Megiddo, Hazer and Beer Sheba (2005); and Incense Route – Desert cities in the Negev (Avdat, Mamshit [Mampsis], Halutza [Elusa] and Shivtah (2005).


The high point in the history of the city of Acre began with the Crusader conquest in 1104. Acre was already an important port city then, but during the Crusader period it became the primary commercial center in Eretz Yisrael and served as the capital of the Crusader Kingdom for a century (1191-1291). The city was divided into quarters housing the military' knights' orders (the Hospitaller, the Templar and the Teutonic) as well as the Italian commercial communes representing Italy's major commercial cities – Venice, Genoa and Piza. Each of these communities built grand structures that reflected Acre's status then as one of the world's major cities, with a population of some 40,000.

The most impressive building to survive today is the Hospitaller Dining Hall (the "Crypt"), built in the Gothic cross-beamed vaulted style developed in France and Italy in the 12th century, replicated in Acre.

The city was conquered in 1291 by the Mamluks and was totally destroyed. It remained in ruins for hundreds of years until the 17th century, when it was rebuilt by the Druze ruler Fakhr al-Din. Today, it constitutes a unique example of an Ottoman walled city built on the ruins of a Crusader city whose plan it preserved.

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Tel Aviv

Founded in 1909, Tel Aviv developed as an amalgam of neighborhoods without a central plan. In 1925, at the initiative of Mayor Meir Dizengoff, an urban blueprint was commissioned from the Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes The "Geddes Plan", as it was known, was approved in 1929 and largely determined the image of Tel Aviv during the British Mandate period.

In the early 1930s, a number of young, mostly native architects were active in Tel Aviv. They had acquired training in architecture during the 1920s in the Bauhaus School in Germany, in Le Corbusier's atelier, and elsewhere in Europe. Upon their return home, they applied the principles of modernism, or the International Style, to the design of new buildings in, Tel Aviv.

The period was one of booming construction in the country. Between 1931 and 1937, over 2,700 new buildings were constructed in Tel Aviv alone, most of them reflecting the International Style, albeit adapted by the Tel Aviv architects to the climatic conditions of the region. For example, the wrap­around or picture window, which was designed to admit a maximum of light in European homes, was replaced by broad cement overhangs to provide shade from the intense Israeli sun.

Tel Aviv is the only city in the world in which an entire district built along the principles of the International Style has been preserved. An outstanding example is Dizengoff Circle, planned in 1934 by architect Jenia Averbouch

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Herod, King of Judea, chose Masada in the Judean wilderness as his refuge in the event of a revolt against him. During 36-30 BCE, a walled complex was erected atop Masada containing residences, food storage facilities, wells and ammunition dumps. Herod also built two magnificent palaces for himself, adorned with colored plaster and mosaics. The Northern Palace is especially noteworthy as an exceptional example of an elegant villa of the ancient Roman period.

With the outbreak of the First Revolt of the Jews against Roman rule in 66 CE, Masada, guarded by a Roman garrison force, was conquered by the Jewish rebels. They were joined in the year 70 by surviving rebels who escaped from Jerusalem after its destruction and reached Masada, determined to carry on the struggle. The rebels adapted the buildings atop the mountain to their needs and prepared for a prolonged stay.

In 73 the Roman governor decided to wipe out the last of the Jewish rebels. The surviving remnants of the siege wall from which the Romans attacked, as well as the army camps built around it, are evidence of the vast effort invested by the Roman army in this campaign, and constitute the most complete example of a Roman siege network that has survived to the present. The Romans built an earthen assault ramp on the western slope which, at the end of a siege lasting several months, enabled them to bring up a battering ram to the top of the mountain and breach the wall.

The speech by the rebel leader, Eleazar son of Ya'ir, persuading his comrades that death as free men is preferable to surrender and captivity, is described by the historian Josephus in his book The Jewish War. The Masada episode became a paradigm and symbol of the quest for freedom and unremitting struggle against bondage.

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel