The Krak des Chevaliers, located in modern day Syria, is one of the best-preserved examples of European medieval military architecture done in the Gothic style. It is a massive fortress that was built during the first Crusades. The Krak was constructed on a strategic defensive position on top of a hill known as Jebel Kalakh, in the middle of the Syrian desert on the route leading to Antioch, Beirut, and the Mediterranean. It guarded what was the only major pass between Antioch in Turkey and Beirut in Lebanon. Perhaps the Krak is better known today from its description by T.E. Lawrence in 'Lawrence of Arabia”.
The Krak des Chevaliers and surrounding landscape. (CC BY 2.0)
A Short History
Built by the Emir of Aleppo in 1031, the fortress was large enough to accommodate a military troop of 2000 soldiers, the stables could keep up to 1000 horses, and the inner protective wall is over 3 meters (9.85 ft.) thick. The Krak was built to be a massive, long lasting, defensive fortress. Inside the castle, an elegant Crusader cloister has an inscription carved in Latin saying “Grace, wisdom and beauty you may enjoy but beware pride which alone can tarnish all the rest.”
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