I 'Krak' Myself Up Again..
Trip Start May 02, 2006
113Trip End Mar 02, 2007
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Hello from arguably the second most important site in Syria and the best preserved castle in the world. TE Lawrence simply called it, 'the finest castle in the world'. In our eyes he obviously hadn't laid eyes on Ishak Pasa Palace in Turkey.
Upon entry you really get a sense that you're stepping back in time as it cannot have looked a great deal different 800 years ago. The place is immense. It twists and turns through countless dark passages and rooms. Part of the castle is only accessible if you have a torch (thanks for the tip Lonely Planet). In fact if you do go make sure you remember to take a torch as that was probably the most fun. Made us feel like children again.
The castle was built around the middle of the twelfth century by the elite Knights Hospitaller who were Christian crusaders from France. It could hold a garrison of upto 2000 people and contained enormous stables, baths, armory warehouse, kitchens, toilets, chapel and in later years a mosque.
The knights held the castle up until the mid thirteenth century when they were the last remaining outpost of the crusader armies. Jerusalem was lost and the Christians were retreating from the promised land. Krak was surrounded by the armies of Islam so they simply gave it up under terms of safe conduct.
All in all the place is truly a marvel to behold. Unfortunately the photos don't do it any justice as its size is quite difficult to capture and my poor little camera couldn't cut it in the darker passageways.
One small highlight for us was that from the top tower you could see Lebanon which was roughly 7 kilometres from the castle. Seeings as we had originally planned to spend a week or so in Lebanon we viewed the countryside with a tinge of sadness. Such a shame what has happened there over the last month or so and we were reminded of it constantly whilst in Syria as they had power cuts each day for an hour as they were diverting it to Lebanon.
So, there goes Krak Des Chevaliers by the wayside.
Next pod, the big one, Palmyra - Syria.
Nath and Kat.