Thursday, October 7, 2010

Krak des Chevaliers

Krak des Chevaliers, Syria. UNESCO World Herit...Image via WikipediaTurkey is an awesome place to live if you think castles are cool. The Knights Hospitaller (more on them later) and other crusaders sprinkled the Mediterranean coast with them in various shapes and sizes. There are so many that after a while, you think you've seen enough and they even fade to the background.  Don't make the same mistake I did - drag yourself into every one you come across! I missed some interesting things. (Granted, I was very tired and climbing around ruins is exhausting. I opted for the beach.)
For this week's field trip, we'll go farther along the pilgrimage route into Syria, near the border of Lebanon. There's no chance of missing the main base of the Knights Hospitaller, Krak des Chevaliers, there. The fortress is one of the most important preserved military castles in the world. 
Never heard of it, right? Me neither, until I started researching. (It was my wallpaper for a while because just looking at the impressive structure inspires me.) The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and if it weren't for the location, I think it would be mobbed with tourists.

Krak des Chevaliers is the largest crusader castle in the Holy Land.  When the original inner castle was given to the Knights Hospitaller in 1142, they expanded it into a concentric castle.  The outer walls are at least 10 feet thick, even up to 100 feet thick at the base of the south side.  Numerous guard towers are as wide as 30 feet.
The Knights also built a gothic-style inner ward, along with stables for 1,000 horses and quarters for 2,000 soldiers.  Not only is the fortress strong, there is storage dug into the cliff underneath it.  That strategic planning meant the castle could withstand seige for up to 5 years. It was never taken by force, only through trickery and finally, because of the decline of the Knights' importance.

Other castles were built to emulate the style of Krak des Chevaliers, but none as large or effective.

Impenetrable castle + Crusader knights = Chapter 11!

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Watch this video clip for an idea of the scale.

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Jules said...

You know I was in Architecture so the picture alone drew me in. :) That and the fact I love castles. I wish there were more in the US. Lovely, educating post.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Unknown said...

I do love castles, I have a wonderful castle picture on my desktop.

That castle, that I can't pronounce, looks like something I'd like to see someday.


Carolyn V. said...

I love castles. They amaze me. The video is so interesting.

LTM said...

this IS the bible for your book! So many cool facts and places. LOVE it~ :o)

Private said...

Krak de Chevalier has always been on my list, I find the crusaders fascinating - and hypocritical. But all "religious" wars are, I suppose:)


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