Krak des Chevaliers, one of the oldest Crusader Castles, was one of the highlights
of our winter holiday trip to Syria, . It was home for some time to Richard
the Lionhearted. Well preserved in the mountains that separate Syria from
Lebanon, it was the first stop in our fall break trip
is the interior of the Castle, leading to the living quarters of the castle.
Above the entry arch is the crest of Richard the Lionhearted (a bit more
visible if you enlarge the image). The Castle has a series of of inner
and outer walls that made it difficult to breach the gates, should you
survive the assault as you made your way up the mountain
the central courtyard is the entrance to the main meeting hall for the
king and the knights. Here they gathered for war councils and banquets.
Behind the central meeting hall are the cavernous kitchens and dining halls
for the foot soldiers. Below this complex are found the stables and storage
areas. It is an amazingly self-contained structure, located high on a mountain
overlooking central trade routes
is an interior shot of the royal meeting hall with its vaulted ceilings
and open space. As you can see, even on sunlit days very little light filters
through the sparse skylights. As a result, the Crusaders relied a great
deal on candles and torches. I thinks this is partly a function of
the thick-walled construction techniques, and partly a design choice to
ensure protection from any group who breached the walls.
level above the meeting hall was the King's Quarters, a large area atop
the castle that afforded a view that stretched from the edge of Lebanon
to the east, and northward nearly as far as Hama, our next destination.
Here I am, the knight errant, rescuing a damsel in distress--in this case
buying a cup of tea to fend off the chilly October weather in the mountains.
Krak des Chevaliers we descended the mountain and drove to the town of
Hama, a forty five minute journey. There we spent the night at the Cham
Palace before traveling the 100+ kilometers to Aleppo the next day. Hama
is famous for their ancient water wheels, two of which are shown here. Their construction
dates from the earliest civilizations of the region.
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