Ahmed al Jezzar ("the Butcher") Pasha was the Ottoman-Turkish governor of Akko during the late 1700s, and notorious for his habit of mutilating both those in his government and those he governed. According to legend, on Al Jezzar Pasha's whim, faithful chamberlains and retainers were ordered to slay their own children as signs of loyalty to the Pasha, and the Pasha rewarded government officials and loyal subjects with amputations of hands, arms, eyes, and legs to test their willingness to submit to his whims. If this was how he treated his friends, you can imagine the fate of his enemies. When Napoleon invaded Egypt, the English joined the Ottomans in trying to drive him out. Al Jezzar Pasha marshaled the defenses of Akko, and the city withstood Napoleon's assault in 1799. Napoleon's forces never recovered from this impasse, and Napoleon's dream of conquering Egypt died outside the walls of Akko. The Pasha died in Akko in 1804, to the great relief of the city's inhabitants.
Ahmed al Jezzar Pasha's contributions to Akko included building fountains, a covered market, a Turkish bath, and the harmonious mosque complex that bears his name. Begun in 1781, it is an excellent example of classic Ottoman-Turkish architecture and stands among the Pasha's most ambitious projects. Every great man in the empire wanted to endow a mosque in his own name, an act that not only added to his glory on earth but also gained points for him in heaven. A number of charitable institutions were usually constructed around the mosque, and shops were built into the walls, the rent from the shops paying for the mosque's maintenance. Though the greatest of these complexes were in Constantinople, the Ottoman capital, the one in Akko is a graceful provincial example of the exotic style of Ottoman architecture (rooted in both Byzantine and Persian traditions); it also illustrates how the traditional mosque complex worked.