The Krak des Chevaliers

Trip Start Jul 03, 2007
Trip End ??? ??, 2009

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Flag of Syria  ,
Monday, August 13, 2007

Hello all!

Well, I have finally found my patch cord from the camera to the laptop! Here goes my history lesson of the Castle of the Knights

The Krak des Chevalier is one of the best medieval monuments in Syria. It was first built as a Kurdish Garrison in 1031 but fell to the Crusaders in 1098. The Knights Hospitallers (the Knights of St. John) doubled its fortifications and added other structures that could hold a garrison of 2000 with provisions for a siege of up to 5 years. The Castle dominates a narrow pass between Homs and Tripoli. It sits 750 m. above sea level and is 30 km from the Syrian Coast. It has a majestic view of lush farmland which include olive and fig trees as well as wheat fields.

The castle was subject to 3 earthquakes in 1157, 1169 and 1200 AD. It was restored after each quake and fortified. Most recently the castle was upgraded in 1937 by the French, and it continues to be maintained. What I found most startling about our visit is that there was an element of danger in touring the structure. Most other monuments I have visited had guard rails or areas you could not explore. This is totally open and taking the walk on the upper ramparts is quite exhalarating! We explored storage rooms with just our camera lights on for a guide.

It was a very hot day and being inside the castle was a nice respite from the direct sun although we were at a high altitude and there was a wind. Outside the castle walls were the usual tourist hawkers of postcards and happily there was a camel for us to ride on.

I went on with Sandy and was quite suprised at the angle we stooped to when the camel rose his hind haunches. It was a fun experience and won't be our last. We have plans to take an extended camel ride through the ruins of Palmya. But, we have learned a few things....the heat of the summer is not the best time to tour the desert!
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