Krak des Chevaliers

Krak des Chevaliers

While in Jordan, we visited the ruins of two old Crusader Castles: Shobak Castle and Karak Castle. While both were fascinating in their own right, they were only appetizers before the main course in Syria: Krak des Chevaliers. This is the best preserved Crusader military castle in the world, and it dates back to just after 1000 AD. Crouching agressively on the top of a 650 metre hill in western Syria, it commands a stunning panoramic view of the countryside in all directions. The location is at the only historical crossroads between Antakya in Turkey and Beirut in Lebanon, and was a position of strategic importance during the Crusades. We only had time to make a stopover at the castle on our way to Palmyra, but it was worth the detour.

Happy Birthday Toon!

Just before visiting the castle itself, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a great view. It was Toon’s birthday! We ordered up a feast and gorged ourselves on delicious Syrian mezzes and chicken. We even tried a bottle of Syrian wine, which was decent and went down nicely. Feeling sated and happy, we set out to explore Krak des Chevaliers.

The inner wall

The castle itself is very impressive. If you’ve ever read stories about knights and princesses and medeival battles and sieges, then this is the castle from those stories. It has everything. The outer wall seems impenetrable, and indeed it was: Krak des Chevalier was never successfully breached while the Crusaders held it. It was only captured eventually when it was abandoned voluntarily by its defenders. Inside the first wall are the remnants of a moat, and an equally impressive second wall. Venturing inside here we wandered through kitchens, chapels, stables, banquet halls, and sleeping quarters. The nicest thing about visiting the castle is that it hasn’t been rewired with a bunch of intrusive artificial lights everywhere. Most of the castle is still only lit by natural means, which creates some very dramatic effects when exploring some of the deeper, darker corners.

Inside the Krak

Impressive detail preserved

Wandering through Krak des Chevaliers made us feel the presence of its own history, turning us into explorers whose curiousity kept dragging us around the next corner. It was exciting to see a piece of ancient medeival architecture so well preserved, even after 1000 years.



  1. Bruce The Moose

  2. Have heard much of Krak. Love to hear more…

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