"Krak des Chevaliers" Qal`at al Hisn by MM212

Qal`at al Hisn Travel Guide: 38 reviews and 159 photos

Although one of many Crusader fortresses around the Levant, Krak des Chevaliers (Qal'at al Hisn in Arabic) is by far the greatest. It sits strategically atop a high hill protecting the only access from the Mediterranean Sea to the Syrian heartland. A smaller fortress existed on the site since the 10th century, before the arrival of the Crusaders. In the 11th century, the castle was conquered and expanded by the Crusaders, and served as the seat of the Knights of Hospitaller until it was captured by the Mamluke Sultan, Baibar in the late 13th century. It is considered one of the most incredible defence structures in the mediaeval world and many historians were later mesmerised by this castle, describing it as the most perfect or most admirable. For admirers of castle architecture, the Krak is not to be missed due to its great size and unmatched state of preservation. It is considered one of Syria's top gems and has been on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites since 2006.

On 26th December 2006, I went on a road trip from Damascus to Maaloula, then to Krak des Chevalier, and later drove through Homs to reach Palmyra by night. The weather did not cooperate, unfortunately, as it was cold, windy, rainy and foggy (!), though such weather is not uncommon during winter in this incredibly green part of Syria.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Krak des Chevaliers has suffered severe damage during the civil war between the Syrian government and the Free Syrian Army. More recently, on 12th July 2013, one of the inner tower was blown up by a Syrian army fighter plane. The castle's strategic location continues to be of significant importance to this day.

Syria itinerary in Dec 2006:

Damascus - Maaloula - Krak des Chevaliers - Homs - Palmyra/Tadmur - Hama - Apamea - Aleppo - Al Barah/Serjilla - Damascus

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Magnificent!
  • Cons:Difficult to reach, rainy in winter
  • Last visit to Qal`at al Hisn: Dec 2006
  • Intro Updated Jul 15, 2013
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