Keywords:Port City, Acre, Akko, Akka, Urban Heritage, Adaptive Reuse, Historic Urban Landscape
Acre is a port city in the north-western part of Israel, with a history that goes back more than 4000 years. Being inscribed on the World Heritage List, the Old City of Acre preserves the urban and architectural elements of a historic town. Its outstanding value relies on the Crusader remnants preserved under the Ottoman city, showcasing the dynamism and continuous change of Mediterranean port cities. Moreover, the presence of various religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Bahai, adds to its complexity, expressed as monuments and religious sites that enrichen Acre’s cultural heritage. The dramatic change in values over the past decades has a direct impact on the built environment and the citizen’s lifestyles, in some cases jeopardising the physical elements and drastically influencing people’s lives. This paper aims to analyse the changes linked to the sea: livelihoods, tourism, and recreational use; and the change of use of the khan, as both the sea and the khan are constant elements in the city. The analysis of these processes serves as the starting point to identify changes in values which can enhance development or promote gentrification, and in the case of Khan Al-Umdan and its vicinity, we aim to recognise the lights and shadows that followed the adaptive reuse evaluation procedure, and the influence of the multiple narratives in its development. The conclusions will provide a solid base on which to develop a methodology on the one hand, identify changing processes, such as gentrification; and on the other, to evaluate adaptive reuse alternatives of cultural heritage in contested societies and changing values.