Thursday, July 2, 2015
Krak des Chevaliers
Built in a defensive position atop a large hill in 1031, by the Emir of Aleppo, this castle in western Syria guards the route from Antioch to Beirut. It was a strategically important fort during the crusades, and was taken in 1099, by Raymond IV of Toulouse, after which it changed hands a few times until 1142, when it became the headquarters of the knights Hospitaller. During the Crusades, it housed a garrison of 2,000 soldiers as well as up to 60 knights. The Hospitaller knights rebuilt much of the castle, including strengthening the walls, which are up to 100ft thick in places, they also rebuilt a lot of inner wards in a gothic style including a meeting hall, chapel, cistern, aqueduct, storage facilities and two stables which held up to 1000 horses. In the cliff below the castle the Hospitaller knights dug further storage areas to hold supplies that could have lasted them up to 5 years, if they were besieged. This site is also one of the few places in the world where crusaders art frescos can be seen.