Monday, April 21, 2008

Le Krak des Chevaliers, Syria (April 17-18, 2008)

Called "the finest castle in the world" by TE Lawrence, Le Krak des Chevaliers is one of the most famous Crusader castles. It was originally constructed in the 11th century by a military Kurd colony ruled by the emir of Homs.

The crusaders first conquered the castle in 1099. Under the reign of Philippe August, the castle was significantly fortified and expanded to include a residence and a hospital.

Because of its strategic location, the castle was never taken by direct force; Saladin besieged the castle in 1188 but quickly gave up. The fortress was only conquered in 1271 by the Mameluke Sultan Baybars who blocked all traffic of goods to the castle; after one month, the knights withdrew despite having the stores to hold out for longer.

The Sultan Baybars further fortified the castle during the 13th and 14th centuries, making it a base of operations against the Crusades. By the end of the Crusades, the fortress had lost its importance, although it was inhabited by the Ottomans until the 19th century and by local villagers until the early 20th century.
Le Krak des Chevaliers
A closer view of the castle from outside
The moat between the outer and inner walls of the castle
The entrance to the castle from the main gate
The view from atop the outer wall of the castle

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