After our morning in Maaloula we drove 2 hours to Krak des Chevaliers, one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. Ophelia cheekily made us close our eyes for a few seconds just so we can open them to this:
Ophelia then recommended that we could take photos from an abandoned restaurant building; you can climb up to its second floor for better views.
We then stopped for an hour’s lunch at Hotel Bebars overlooking the citadel. The complimentary tea and grapes afterwards hit the spot. What a feeling.
Calling the site ahead to let us visit a little later, we then wandered in the late afternoon and had the citadel all to ourselves.
The site was first inhabited in the 11th century by Kurdish troops before it was handed off to the Knights Hospitaller in 1142 (best represented by this hallway where they used to convene for summits). . .
. . . it was then reconquered by the Muslims in 1271.
Then during the Crusades, Krak des Chevaliers became an administration center and military base. Their immense horse stable best represents this. And don’t miss the bug-filled secret door on the left!
We then climbed to the very top for a walk along the castle walls.
At its peak, Krak des Chevaliers housed a garrison of around 2,000 soldiers, and today it is regarded as a symbol of the Crusades.
Even T. E. Lawrence (popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia) wrote that Krak des Chevaliers was “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world, [a castle which] forms a fitting commentary on any account of the Crusading buildings of Syria”.
Right before we boarded our bus, the castle’s keeper came out of nowhere and beckoned for us to check out a hidden back church which he unlocked for us.
Catch this light at dusk:
After over an hour at the citadel, we drove back into the mountains at Mishtaya and checked into our lodgings at Villa Rose Hotel. Then we enjoyed our first full Syrian dinner at Le Monde a few blocks away:
- At time of posting in Mishtaya, it was 23 °C - Humidity: 68% | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear, sunny