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Krak des Chevaliers

Listed under Castles & Palaces in Syria.

  • Photo of Krak des Chevaliers
  • Photo of Krak des Chevaliers
  • Photo of Krak des Chevaliers
  • Photo of Krak des Chevaliers
  • Photo of Krak des Chevaliers
Photo of Krak des Chevaliers
Photo by flickr user James Gordon
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Krak des Chevaliers is one of the great Syrian Crusader fortresses. In excellent repair it is considered by many to be one of the most complete pieces of military architecture dating from this period in history. It also holds some of the best preserved Crusader frescoes in the world.

The first fortress on this site was finished around 1030. When the Crusaders arrived in Syria in 1099 it was taken and passed around before being settled and built on by the Knights Hospitaller (second only in fame and prestige to the Knights Templar.) in could hold around 2,000 men and with its strong, turreted defending wall it became a model for many later British Castles.

Krak des Chevaliers has two concentric walls with a ditch between them, the outer wall an impressive three meters in width and originally featured a dry moat and drawbridge and was designed to be able to withstand a siege lasting up to five years, luckily the Hospitallers at Krak des Chevaliers were never called upon to test this claim, but they did tunnel impressive storage space into the cliffs below the fort and all siege attempts failed. As well as the defences and the art there are notable religious buildings making up the complex including a chapel which was converted into a mosque.

Some of the internal architecture is interestingly Gothic, as was the French style at the time and includes a grand spiral staircase and high vaulted roofs suspended on grand columns.

Written by  Kynan Wieltz.

Other expert and press reviews

“Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din”

These two castles represent the most significant examples illustrating the exchange of influences and documenting the evolution of fortified architecture in the Near East during the time of the Crusades (11th - 13th centuries). The Crac des Chevaliers w… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

“A Tour of the Ancient World in Syria”

By James Blachowicz for The New York Times First published March 4, 1990 You can spend an extra day exploring the meager remains of Dura, Mari and Rusafa on the Euphrates beyond Palmyra, or return west toward Homs, the birthplace of the Roman Emperor … Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The New York Times

“Krak des Chevaliers”

Author Paul Theroux described Krak des Chevaliers (French for "Fortress of Knights") in Syria as the epitome of the dream castle of childhood fantasies. T.E. Lawrence simply called it "the finest castle in the world." This popular to… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article on Sacred Destinations

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Castle of the Knights

From the outside this fortress is intimidating in its grandeur and power. The Castle of the Knights, standing 2300ft above sea level, back straight and proud, lies what is arguably the finest fortress ever built. With its command over the valley it appears to be a model of perfection of medieval fortification. The western side has a curtain wall with five cylindrical towers strengthening it and the northern wing has a postern, which is situated between two square shaped towers. The defensive plan is featured by two separate lines of defence, an outer curtained wall with several cylindrical towers, and as the inner ring. The inner fortress was used as the crusader castle. Large taluses were added to the southwest and east sides to strengthen the outer wall and to make it earthquake resistant.

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