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Krak des Chevaliers

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The Krak des Chevaliers (قلعة الحصن) also called Crac des Chevaliers, Ḥiṣn al-Akrād (حصن الأكراد‎, literally "Fortress of the Kurds"), is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important and well preserved medieval castles in the world. Krak des Chevaliers is located approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of the city of Homs, close to the border of Lebanon, and is administratively part of the Homs Governorate. Since 2006, the castles of Krak des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din have been recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

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Location

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Overview

The castle sits atop a 650-metre-high (2,130 ft) hill east of Tartus, Syria, in the Homs Gap. On the other side of the gap, 27 kilometres (17 mi) away, was the 12th-century Gibelacar Castle (Hisn Ibn Akkar).

The castle was strategically located at the southern edge of the Jibal al-Alawiyin mountain range and dominated the road between Homs and Tripoli. Krak can be classified both as a spur castle and a fully developed concentric castle.

Krak des Chevaliers

Brief History

circa CE

The site was first inhabited in the 11th century by Kurdish troops garrisoned there by the Mirdasids. According to the 13th-century Arab historian Ibn Shaddad, in 1031, the Mirdasid emir of Aleppo and Homs, Shibl ad-Dawla Nasr, established a settlement of Kurdish tribesmen at the site of the castle, which was then known as "Ḥiṣn al-Safḥ". The early castle was substantially different from the extant remains and no trace of this first castle survives at the site.

In 1142 it was given by Raymond II, Count of Tripoli, to the order of the Knights Hospitaller. The Hospitallers began rebuilding the castle in the 1140s and were finished by 1170 when an earthquake damaged the castle.

In 1271 Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured Krak des Chevaliers after a siege lasting 36 days, supposedly by way of a forged letter purportedly from the Hospitallers' Grand Master that caused the Knights to surrender.

During the Ottoman period (1516–1918), the Crac housed a company of müstahfızan (equivalent to local janissaries), and was commanded by a dizdar (castle warden).

In the late 19th or early 20th century a settlement had been created within the castle, causing damage to its fabric. The 500 inhabitants were moved in 1933 and the castle was given over to the French Alawite State, which carried out a program of clearing and restoration. When Syria declared independence in 1946, it assumed control.

Architecture

circa CE

The Outer Ward
The outer ward (identify) of the Crac, was constructed in the 13th century CE and followed the lay of the land. It added further fortification advantages to the upper or the inner bailey. The outer ward complex comprised of fortification towers connected with curtain walls, and inside the walls were the zwinger areas on the , and moat. The peasants who took refuge inside the castle during sieges, were also kept in this section.

To the south of the outer ward was a triangular outwork and the Crusaders may have intended to build stone walls and towers around it.

circa CE

The Inner Ward
The inner ward or the inner bailey (identify), although reconstructed, renovated and added on several times over the years, it premarily dates back to the earliest phases of Crusader construction of the castle, constructed majorly between 1142 and 1170 CE.

Gallery

References

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