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Syria: Krak des Chevaliers

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Krak des Chevaliers | Syria | Asia

[Visited: March 2004]

On our way to the castle mid-March, we drove through snowy slopes and I started to add a layer of snow to the image of the castle in my head. However, once we had passed the city of Homs, the snow had given way to vibrant green fields with flowers. Soon, we discovered the castle, sitting high above us on a hilltop, defiantly overlooking the plains of Syria. Its location was chosen well, for it guards the only passage through the mountainrange between the Mediterranean coast and the hinterland. With every curve in the road, the castle seemed to get closer, until we parked right in front of the entrance.

Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Overview of Krak des Chevaliers

Once through the main gate, we walked around, marvelled at the enormous thick and high walls, and imagined how easy it must have been for defenders to keep this castle in their possession. In its heyday, the castle housed some 4000 soldiers and knights, and with their horses it must have been a lively place indeed. It was attacked, but never conquered. Only after the Crusades were over and Jerusalem was lost, did the last inhabitants give up after a short siege by Muslim warlord Baibar. This explains why the castle is still largely intact.

Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Moat of Krak des Chevaliers

After walking up through the inner ramp, we reached a gate through which we saw some of the majestic towers reflected in the moat. Here were also the baths of the castle, fed by water in the moat, nowadays largely overgrown by moss. We went up the towers, up the outer wall, we saw Syrian youths partying at the foot of one of the towers before we went inside. There, we visited the dining hall, the chapel, the oven, the Long Room and up again to the Warden's Tower from where there is a splendid view both towards the Mediterranean and the inside of Syria. Walking outside from the castle, up to a restaurant offered us a great view over the castle in all its glory.

Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Inside Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Gothic influence in Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Outer wall of Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Inner part of Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Reflection of towers in moat of Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Warden's Tower of Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Baths at Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Baibar inscription in Krak des Chevaliers
Picture of Krak des Chevaliers (Syria): Outer and inner wall of Krak des Chevaliers

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