Knight with a sword

From Akko, Israel

Watercolor on cold-pressed paper, 12 x 16


It was 1996. The Ottoman-era streets of Old Akko with their teeming souks looked truly charming as sunlight dappled upon shop awnings. After a dash of tasty tahini, I walked past stalls that peddled colorful spices and souvenir shops stocked with the most curious objects I could never have ordered from a catalog!

Even more fascinatingly, a fantastic world lay underneath these cobblestones. I noticed a group of archaeologists working to uncover an enormous underground city that had been built by the Crusaders. The Knights of St. John had originally been established in the eleventh century A.D. to care for the sick of Jerusalem — but had soon become a powerful political organization.



I explored this endless subterranean world of dining rooms and pillared hallways, dungeons and an elaborate sewage system that crisscrossed under the entire city. Somewhere here Richard the Lionheart may have entertained his royal guests from France.I could also imagine knights clad in mail and armor, exiting the city in a swift march through an escape tunnel that connected the seaport to the ancient fortress, even as invading forces were penetrating the main defenses. They wanted to live so they died fighting for the bigger cause they were here for – the liberation of the Holy Land.

At one point my son’s movements caught my eye. With only his little plastic shark for protection, he looked awed, even overwhelmed by the enormity of the vaulted ceilings and the somberness of the place. Yet behind him, the morning sun had found expression through the arched entrance, lightening up the mood of the moment.

I later painted in the brilliance of the light through several watercolor washes of New Gamboge and Raw Sienna on cold-pressed paper.

– Check out to get more insights into my new book Rambles into Sacred Realms: Exploring Divinity through Pen and Paint, where I invite readers to experience such adventure, humor and imagery illustrating my travels.

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