BootsnAll Travel Network



Krak des Chevaliers (Castle of the Knights). Hosn, Syria

I stayed in a small Syrian resort town of Hama for about five nights. The claim to fame of Hama is the local water wheels. Thats right, water wheels. You know, Walton’s Mountain type water wheels. Big ferris wheel looking contraptions that sit partially in a stream and used the current to turn it and thereby transporting the water or turning an internal wheel for grinding wheat or grain into flour or as a millery. Man it was fascinating, truly mesmerizing. They were really big too, some as wide as 20 meters. That and the groaning sound they made as the wheels and axle were wooden. Actually the only one that is currently working was the mock up miniature one at the bus station, but even that one was a master piece. Okay, I am a big fat liar. I stayed there because the room in the hotel that I stayed had sort of satellite tv. Actually, it was like ten channels, but one of them was “M”BC which was a sort of Middle Eastern Action channel. They had all the shows like LOST, Vroom Vroom, NCIS, a new action movie every day, etc. That, and at 8:30pm, one of the Syrian channels ran CSI Miami. Heaven baby. I watched tv for about 15 hours a day and used one hour to go out and eat, chicken Mensaf, this kind of Tapioca pudding stuff (Tapioca is not made out of fish eyes as told by my sister when I was like 4 and therefore never ate the stuff for 35 years.) which was topped with shredded coconuts (I also hated coconuts until I started living on Islands, but now they are not bad, Beets however still suck ass.) and Pistachio shavings, fantastic. I also sweetened up a bit with this kind of honey covered, nut covered, sweeten granola crust stuff and this filla dough covering a sweet clotted cream rolls. Coke of course was also present. But beyond that one hour of scurrying out for supplies, it was horizontal watching my picture perfect 13” tv. Magnificent.

Oh yea, one day, I was feeling a bit guilty so I ran my ass out to see the best castle in existence as noted by everyone including T.E. Lawrence and some other important people. Supposedly it is the castle that all kids dream about. I on the other hand have not dreamt of castles, not withstanding, this castle is pretty darn big, and rates fairly high on the cool list with all its secret passage ways and just sheer monstrous size. Because Marisa (friend from South Africa) says that I need to show perspectives, the above photo has a lady and her baby in it. They are walking on the road between the second and third base towers. Really tiny, but they are there. Speaking of dreams, the reason why I am doing this round the world trip started when I was really small, I think I was out Dove hunting but there were swings involved so I might be wrong, but I remember talking to one of my neighborhood friends as a airliner flew overhead and we started discussing about people traveling around the world. For some reason I had it in my head that the only people that traveled around the world used hot air balloons (big old German style ones) and wore Tuxedoes and drank Champagne. From that point it was on the list. I think. I also remember seeing all these colorful Macaws out in the wild roosting in the side of a mud wall. I just can’t remember if I really saw that or maybe I saw it on tv. Now that is one big issue with seeing so much stuff at one time. You see all this crazy stuff in person, then you forget about limitations and then it starts to distort reality. Well, the above and the fact that now when people ask why I went on such a trip, I will tell them that it is in the blog and they need to find it. I just won’t tell them it is under the heading about a castle. Still kind of a prick I am, that hasn’t changed.

Okay, some more photos.

Outer wall Inner structure The top of the inside My new (used) boots.  My socks stay clean now. The castle looking down on the valley.

Enrich your mind, read this.

Krak des Chevaliers (also “Crac des Chevaliers” – ‘Castle of the Knights’) located near Homs in Syria is widely recognised as the archetypal Crusader castle. Described by T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) as “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world”, this somewhat isolated site is located magnificently (750 m or 2300 ft above sea level) and is, indeed, extremely well-preserved. Today it represents one of the premier tourist attractions in central Syria.

Krak des Chevaliers was the easternmost of five Crusader fortifications guarding the only major pass (known as the ‘Homs Gap’ in the Orontes river Valley) between Antakya in Turkey and Beirut in the Lebanon. The castle was built and expanded at Qal’at al-Hisn by the Order of the Knights of St John in the years between 1142 and 1271. It covers 3 hectares in area and, at the height of its powers, it housed a garrison of up to 4000 men. The castle held out against several fierce attacks (including one by the famous Saladin), and was rumoured to be impregnable. The Krak, however, was eventually lost by the naive crusaders to the Mamluk Sultan Baybars in 1271, who tricked the defenders into abandoning the castle by means of a faked letter from the Crusader Count of Tripoli.

The castle has two main parts: an outer wall with 13 towers and an inner wall and keep. The two walls are separated by a moat (now full of stagnant water), which was used to fill the baths and water the horses. Walk through the main entrance, an imposing gate in the 5m (16ft) thick wall and past the towers which defended the castle, and you enter a courtyard. A corridor covered in delicate carvings leads to a large vaulted hall, where you can see an old oven, a well and some latrines. The chapel in the courtyard was converted to a mosque after Sultan Baybars captured the castle – it still retains its pulpit (mihrab). The top floor of the Tower of the Daughter of the King is now a cafĂ© with great views.

Tabea, a lady I met in Neweiba, Egypt sent these photos she took while we were hanging out at the beach.

Drifting in the sea and sky The girls trying to pants me. Surfing, well, sort of. Tabea playing with the moon



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3 responses to “Krak des Chevaliers (Castle of the Knights). Hosn, Syria”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Steve,

    Great shot of Crac de Chevaliers! I loved that castle, too. I’m still in Beirut, but moving on soon to Syria. Thanks for showing me around on my first day.

    jer

  2. snw2srf2stt says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    Looks relatively calm in Beirut, at least on CNN and BBC. I am heading back to Damascus tomorrow. Will you be going back through there. If so, I might see if you can do me a big favor. I’ll send you an e-mail.

    Steve

  3. Thank you very much for your blog!
    I have learned very much about Beirut!!
    It’s very interesting to be able to read blogs as this one.
    I do not know this country but I am interested in it very much.

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