The Acra was a fortress or citadel built in Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, after his conquest of the city in 168 BCE.


According to Josephus,[1] it was built in the lower portion of the city. The building was tall enough that the Temple platform could be monitored by the Greek garrison. It is thought to have stood in the northern part of the City of David, to the south of the Temple Mount.[2]

Use and destruction

The first stage of the liberation of Jerusalem by the Maccabees in 164 BC was incomplete, as they gained possession of the city and the temple. But the Hellenistic garrison and local supporters of the Seleucids held out in the Acra for a considerable time, though they were isolated from the rest of the city.[3]

It withstood the efforts of both Judas and Jonathan Maccabeus to subjugate it, eventually yielding to Simon Maccabeus in 141 BC. After the reduction of the fortress, the Maccabees demolished the Acra and leveled the hill on which it had stood, thereby finally securing the position of Judea as an independent kingdom.[4]

The name "Acra" persisted as a popular name for this part of Jerusalem for many years later, and is so attested in later sources.

Archaeological evidence

Ophel Pool 1 200509

Ophel pool, possible remnant of the Acra

Benjamin Mazar's excavations of the Ophel, the area adjoining the southern portion of the Temple Mount platform, have unearthed the remains of foundations and a large pool or reservoir from a massive structure possibly dating to the Hellenistic period. These have been tentatively identified as the Acra. Their location is just south of the Huldah Gates in the southern wall of the later Herodian extension of the Temple platform. This building was demolished and built-over during the Hasmonean period, which matches the descriptions in Josephus. The Hasmonean constructions were, in turn, demolished to create a public square fronting the main gates to the Temple platform, along with mikva'ot and other facilities for pilgrims.[5]


  1. Josephus,Jewish Antiquities XII:252-253.
  2. Wightman, G. J. 1990. Temple Fortresses in Jerusalem Part I: The Ptolemaic and Seleucid Akras. Bulletin of the Anglo-Israeli Archaeological Society 9, pp. 29–40.
  3. Josephus,Jewish Antiquities XIII:181-185.
  4. Josephus,Jewish Antiquities XIII:213-217.
  5. Ben-Dov, Meir. 1985. In the Shadow of the Temple: The Discovery of Ancient Jerusalem. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, pp. 65–71. ISBN 0-06-015362-8


See also

Coordinates: 31°46′32.7″N 35°14′10.6″E / 31.77575°N 35.236278°E / 31.77575; 35.236278

ru:Акра (Иерусалим)