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Crac des Chevaliers is medieval military castle that sits majestically on top of a 650 meter high hill in eastern Syria.  When you climb to the top of the castle and look down at the surrounding landscape it literally feels like you’re in the clouds…and it completely takes your breath away.

Crac des Chevaliers (meaning “Fortress of Knights”) is located in the Homs Gap, which is east of Tartus and west of Homs in Syria.  For thousands of years this corridor was a hugely important route since it sits along the only route connecting Syria with the Mediterranean. 

The castle was originally built by the Emir of Aleppo in 1031 to accommodate Kurdish garrisons.  However, during the Crusades the castle was the headquarters for the Knights Hospitaller and was actually where King Richard “The Lionheart” was based. 

From 1150 to 1250 the Knights of the Order of St. John expanded Crac des Chevaliers to house a garrison of about 50 to 60 Hospitaller knights and 2,000 foot soldiers, along with provisions to last up to five years.  They made it into the largest Crusader fortress in the Holy Land, with a three-meter-thick outer wall and seven guard towers eight to ten meters thick.  The inner ward, which was rebuilt in a Gothic style, included aqueducts, cisterns, large halls, storerooms, living quarters, a meeting hall, a chapel, and stables that could have held up to 1,000 horses.

In 1271 Mamluk Sultan Baybars used a military trick to gain possession of the castle.  After a month-long fight, Baybars presented the castle’s defenders with a forged letter from the Crusader Count of Tripoli ordering them to relinquish the castle.  The defenders walked out and all Baybars had to do was walk in.

Mike and I visited the breathtaking Crac des Chevaliers when we were in the Middle East.  The castle is incredibly well-preserved so that whether you’re walking through its dark corridors or spacious vaulted rooms, it’s easy to imagine the bustling daily activities that went on when the castle was inhabited.  Hope you enjoy our pictures!

On the way from Homs to Crac des Chevaliers we were taken away by the stunning landscape…

The fog-laden valley below the castle…

Outside the castle…

Inside the castle…


Historical information on Crac des Chevaliers in this post was compiled from the following sources (listed in random order):

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. stunning….. awesome. I love it when my bloggie friends take me with them on their travels like this. The castle is amazing isn’t it, you can just feel the centuries of people & its inhabitants still bustling around the old stones huh. 1000 horses huh! Incredible.

  2. I’ve never been to Syria, but through your breathtaking photos, feel as if I’m standing within the walls of this castle, awestruck by its history. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos from your trip!

  3. How impressive that castle is. And what good shape it’s still in. I love exploring places like that because you truly feel like you’re stepping back in time.

  4. Wow—breathtaking! I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to see in person!

  5. STUNNING! I saw this post pop up in my inbox this morning and I read it as I was waking up this morning, but I’m glad I returned to see the photos full-sized. So, so pretty!

  6. Ohmygosh I would looooooove to take paul here! He drags me to military forts all the time and would LOVE exploring this castlej

  7. I love such places- the scenic beauty & gorgeous architecture always attracts me.We have a state in northern India which is full of such old castles.No wonder it is one of my fav spots to hangi around!Thanks for sharing such beautiful pictures!

  8. WOW!! Absolutely STUNNING photos, Faith. :-) Perusing these just makes my heart want to burst with happiness. :-) I feel like I’ve escaped my office and had a delightful wander in Syria. Love it. :-)

  9. Beautiful pictures, looks like a fascinating castle to explore and the views are stunning as well. Thanks for sharing Faith;-)

  10. thank you for sharing these remarkable pictures, Faith. It is unlikely that I will visit Syria, but now I’ve gotten another glimpse of your special journey.

  11. Amazing! Beautiful pics Faith. I want to make a trip to Syria too.
    Thankfully it’s not too far away from where I am. I love the greenery and the old-fashioned buildings.
    Your trip must have been out of this world….

  12. How beautiful is that? Looks like you had a gorgeous day to take full advantage of the sights!

  13. Fabulous photos.

    They show strength and speak volumes. This was a nice intermission from looking at food.

  14. Fabulous photos. They show such strength. The first one, standing there, facing the world below speaks volumes. What a nice break from food. Thanks, Faith.

  15. Syria is certainly incredibly enchanting…especially since I managed to steal a peek at some of your past posts. Stunning landscapes surrounds such interesting historical architecture.

    Btw…the roasted carrot and lentil soup looked like something I’ll be making very soon.
    Also…a small comment about that fabulous Red-velvet celebratory cake…wow, especially for two persons who apparently are sweet tooths. LOL

    Glad to be back to visualizing and appreciating your experience and views of our culinary world ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  16. These are some breathtaking photos, Faith! I can’t believe you got so up close and personal to structures with so much history!

  17. Breathtaking views! I bet it felt quite extraordinary to see and stand in something built nearly 1,000 years ago! And to imagine all the history that took place within those walls! Astounding. So pretty, too! I love your photography.

  18. These are beautiful pictures you’ve shared with us, Faith. That castle looks so magical. I love the shot of the top of it. It’s peaceful places like these that make us appreciate our time away from the hustle and bustle of a noisy city life.

  19. The scenes ARE stunning! And the castle is gargantuan! Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures with us Faith!

  20. If those stone walls could speak! What a beautiful castle and the views are amazing.

  21. This looks incredible. I love trips like this: feeling connected to history in a breath taking and unusually memorable place. Thanks for sharing the great pics and the history lesson. Love it!

  22. What an incredible, amazing place! Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  23. It seems that I just traveled with you…beautiful pictures…thank you so much for posting your experience. Have a great week Faith :-)

  24. Heavenly Housewife says:

    What a magical place, and what beautiful pictures. This is probably the next best thing to being there.
    *kisses* HH

  25. I’ve never been to the mideast… what a thrilling place Syria is! That castle is just staggeringly cool and you took such wonderful pictures.. well done, Faith!

  26. That is absolutely stunningly gorgeous. I love medieval castles – it always amazes me how majestic they look while maintaining its strong defense purposes.

  27. An amazing place and your photos are superb. Thanks for sharing. Diane

  28. What an astonishing accomplishment! I am so envious of your trip, thanks for sharing the photos!

  29. I wonder what people will think of our malls and office complexes in a thousand years …

  30. Thanks for sharing those wonderful pictures with us! That castle is splendid and so are the landscapes surrounding it.



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