Krak des Chevalier is a crusader castle in Syria. It is generally considered to be the finest of all crusader castles.
Krak des Chevaliers History
Krak represents the ultimate development of crusader fortification. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.
The stone castle of Krak occupies a dominant hilltop, near two Roman roads and overlooking a fertile valley. The site was apparently occupied by a fortress as early as the 13th century BC.
Krak des Chevaliers was mentioned in Arab texts in AD 1031, when a settlement of Kurds was established, with a small castle. These fell to a crusading force in 1110. Initially dependent on the County of Tripoli, the castle was given to the order of the Knights Hospitaller in 1142, and it became their chief stronghold in 1188, after the Battle of Hattin, when Salah al-Din decided not to embark on the siege of Krak.
The castle of Krak finally fell to the sultan Baybars in 1271. The conquerors continued to use it, restoring the walls and adding the great rectangular defensive tower on the south side, dated by inscription to 1285.
The surface area of the Krak castle is 2.5 ha. The earliest extant building probably dates from after 1142. The central block was constructed at this time, although it doubtless incorporated earlier crusader work.
At the end of the 12th century this block was surrounded by a massive outer wall, and at the same time many of the buildings in the central block were modernized and an elaborate vaulted entrance passage was constructed. Thus, by 1220, the castle had achieved substantially the form in which it survives today.
It was repaired after earthquake damage in 1157 and 1170 (and further damage in later centuries); but, although the various phases of construction can be broken down into their component parts, Krak is best regarded as a unified conception; it is a statement of the best and most advanced ideas about fortification in the early 13th century and, as one of the first fully concentric castles, it was to have a profound influence on subsequent castle design.
Apart from the sophistication of its design, Krak has great physical strength, with vast stone walls, excellent quality of construction and subtle defensive systems. Many would-be conquerors, like Salah al-Din, simply gave up all thought of taking the castle when they saw it, and passed on to easier prey.
Any fortification that can deter a potential attacker by its appearance alone must be counted a success, and in this respect Krak is supreme.
The concentric design of Krak allowed the defenders to protect themselves equally on all sides. The outer wall is overlooked at all points by the inner walls of the central block, and the space between the two walls was within easy and accurate bowshot.
Covering fire could also be provided from all the towers along the line of the walls. The sloping talus made it impossible to mine the walls, and their thickness made them impervious to mangonels or other siege machines.
Opening times and Tickets
Krak des Chevaliers is open for visitors daily as it follows:
April to October: 09,00 - 18,00
November to March: 09,00 - 16,00
Ticket prices - 150 SYP (about 3 USD / 2,2 Euro)
Krak des Chevaliers Map&Location
Aproximate Geographical Coordinates: Lat: 34.757088, Long: 36.294633. See bellow the location on the map: