The Crusader castles Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din in Syria are old and remarkably intact.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
- Full title of site: Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din
- Country: Syrian Arab Republic
- Date of Inscription: 2006
- Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 1229:
“These two castles represent the most significant examples illustrating the exchange of influences and documenting the evolution of fortified architecture in the Near East during the time of the Crusades (11th – 13th centuries). The Crac des Chevaliers was built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem from 1142 to 1271. With further construction by the Mamluks in the late 13th century, it ranks among the best-preserved examples of the Crusader castles. The Qal’at Salah El-Din (Fortress of Saladin), even though partly in ruins, represents an outstanding example of this type of fortification, both in terms of the quality of construction and the survival of historical stratigraphy. It retains features from its Byzantine beginnings in the 10th century, the Frankish transformations in the late 12th century and fortifications added by the Ayyubid dynasty (late 12th to mid-13th century).”
I do not really know what to say of my visit in 1986. I have not told much in my diary but the truth is that I had the “Crac” as one of the highest goals during my visit to the Middle East. Indeed I was very intrigued by it. This was perhaps because of I was reading historic novels in my youth and studying history later on. It seemed very intact, it played an important part in the history of both Christian Europe and Islamic Middle East, and I was there. It feels kind of satisfactory…