Acre: St. Andrews Church

 This Greek Catholic Church, built in 1765, is located on the southern-western side of the old city of Acre, over the ruins of a Crusader church.

Acre: St. Andrews

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* Exterior
* Entrance
* Interior
* Altar
* Services
* Bell Tower
* Courtyard


   This Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church, built in 1765, is located on the southern-western side of the old city of Acre.  It is named after St. Andrews, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The church was built on the remains of a Crusader church.


Melkite Catholic Church:

  The Greek Catholic Church, also known as the Melkite Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The term “Melkite” comes from the Arabic word “malka,” which means “king” or “royal,” and refers to the church’s historic connections with the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor.

The Melkite Catholic Church traces its roots back to the early Christian communities of Antioch, Syria, which was an important center of Christianity in the early centuries of the Church. The church was originally known as the “Church of Antioch,” and its liturgy and traditions were heavily influenced by the Greek-speaking Christians of the Byzantine Empire.

In the 5th century, a split occurred between the Church of Antioch and the rest of the Eastern Orthodox Church over theological differences related to the nature of Christ. The Melkite Church emerged as a distinct entity within the Eastern Christian world, with its own patriarch and hierarchy.

In the 18th century, some Melkite Catholics entered into communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and the Melkite Catholic Church was formally recognized as a sui iuris (“self-governing”) Eastern Catholic Church by the Vatican in the 19th century. Today, the Melkite Catholic Church has its headquarters in Damascus, Syria, and is led by a patriarch who is recognized as a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

The liturgy of the Melkite Catholic Church is based on the Byzantine Rite, which is also used by other Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches. The church also has its own particular customs and traditions, including the use of Arabic in the liturgy and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy according to the “Rite of Jerusalem.”

The Melkite Catholic Church has a strong presence in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, as well as in other parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. The church is known for its commitment to interfaith dialogue and its efforts to promote peace and justice in the region.   


St. Andrews church is located on the southern-western side of the old city of Acre, at Philippe Auguste street, north of the Templars tunnel.

History of the place:

  •  Crusaders

    The Crusaders of the Templars order settled in Acre in the 12th century AD after the fall of Jerusalem, and built a fortress on the south-west corner of the old city of Acre. Adjacent to their palace (“Templum”) they built the Church of Santa Anna, named after the Mother of the Virgin Mary, who according to tradition came from the Galilee ( Sepphoris).  The 12th C church was rebuilt and enlarged in the 13th C as a grand Gothic Cathedral.

  • Mamlukes

   In 1291 the Mamlukes destroyed the city, including most of the Crusaders structures. The church was destroyed, but the battered 2 story shell and arched halls remained standing until the 18th century.

  • Ottomans

   The Greek Catholic church (Melkites) split from the Greek Orthodox church in 1724.

   In 1765 the church was rebuilt over the ruins of the medieval church. The builders reused the stones and the remains of the earlier church, making it difficult today to identify the Crusader structure.

   A sign near above the door near the entrance to the church shows the year of 1802, when the Greek Catholic  Archbishopric was founded at the church. It later moved to Haifa.

  • Modern times

The church of St. Andrews is open to the public, and serves the Greek Catholic Melkite community. Its second floor is still in ruins, and the the community intends to repair the rooms.

Recent excavations and researches attempt to rediscover the Crusader structure (see link).


(a) View from the west:

The south western side of the old city, where the lighthouse is located, is seen in the photo below. The Church of St. Andrews is located behind the first rows of houses, and its bell tower can be seen in the right background above the roof the houses.

Click on the photos  to view in higher resolution…

View of the south-western side of Acre

(b) Entrance:

After entering a small door inside an alley, the corridor opens to the narthex, the outside corridor. The black door on the edge of the hall is the entrance to the Greek Catholic  Archbishopric.  The entrance to the Cathedral is on the edge of the hall, on its left side. A small courtyard is located on the far right side.

St Andrews entrance hall

(c) Interior:

This is the view of the interior of this beautiful church.

St Andrews interior

The staircase is the place of the choirs.

St Andrews interior

(d) Altar:

A closer view of the nave (hall of the church) . The “Templon”, the decorated covered screen with icons and paintings,  separates the hall and the altar behind the center table. There are two side doors that lead to the back.

St Andrews - interior

   A detail of the “Templon”, decorated with icons and paintings, separates the hall of the church (the Nave) and the holy place behind it (the altar, or sanctuary).

   The icons are of Christ in the center, Virgin Mary to the left, Apostles,  John the Baptist, founders of the Church,  Saints and prophet Elijah. They are ordered in sequence that is common to all Melkite churches – the most Holy are in the center above the entrance to the altar, and all are facing the center. The names above each icon are written in Arabic, and where crafted in Syria.

St Andrews: the Templon

(e) Services:

Baptisms and other services are conducted at the church, as seen below.

St Andrews: service

(f) Bell Tower:

Near the entrance to the Church are stairs that lead to the second floor. That section is closed and requires extensive repairs. On top of the roof is the bell tower.

St Andrews: Bell tower

On the side of the stairs,  leading up to the second floor, is the bell that once was hanging in the bell tower.

The old bell from the bell tower.

(g) Court Yard:

On the west side of the church, facing the sea, is a small courtyard, with steps to rooms on the second floor. Embedded into the wall is a segment of a head of an ancient statue. Some consider it the head of John the Baptist, which belonged to the Crusader church that preceded the existing church.

Court yard of St Andrews - head of an ancient statue


  • St. Andrew – the apostle
  • Excavations at St. Andrews – Eliezer Stern, 2007                  (pdf in Hebrew; page 18) – walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land


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This page was last updated on Feb 19, 2023 (new overview)

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