Krak des Chevaliers

Click here for larger imageKrak 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


Click to enlarge imageThis 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

Click on image to enlargeInside 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

Click here for a larger imageHere 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.

Click to enlargeOne 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.

Click on image to enlargeFrom 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.

Click here to go directly to the Aleppo page

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