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Krak des Chevaliers

7 March, 2016

Digging through her archive of photographs, the Author stumbled upon photographs from a trip she took to Syria in 2008–a Syria unrecognizable from the Syria of today. Rather than dwell on that tragedy, the Author would prefer to recall and priase one of the many archaeological treasures in Syria, one that has suffered damage from air strikes and shelling but, mercifully, is still standing: Krak des Chevaliers.

Krak de Chevaliers, north of Damascus and close to Homs, was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 1100s as a crusader castle. It was taken over by the Sultan of Egypt’s forces in 1271 and the cathedral was converted to a mosque, and some nice amenities, such as baths, were added (the Author supposes the crusaders found such hygiene unnecessary!).

When the Author visited in 2008, Krak was remarkably well preserved. The Author explored the chapel-turned-mosque (with crosses carved into the stone and Latin and Arabic graffiti), the Turkish baths, the kitchens (they were cooking for 2,000) and the secret passages under the fortress (which was difficult when one only has the light on ones mobile phone screen as a guide – this was before the iPhone introduced its powerful flashlight feature).

T. E. Lawrence declared Krak “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world”.  The Author wholeheartedly agrees, with Bodiam Castle in East Sussex as honorable mention.  She hopes that, when the conflict is over, inshallah, Lawrence’s praise will still hold true.

1280px-krak_des_chevaliers_01

Image from Wikipedia (the Author, alas, couldn’t get this vantage point) 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sally Jarvis permalink
    4 March, 2016 9:11 pm

    Very interesting! Can you hardly believe yourself that you were in Syria? I remember at the time we were uneasy that you went to Damascus. I can’t remember why you did.

    On Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 1:43 PM, the Diligent Observer wrote:

    > a Diligent Observer posted: “Digging through her archive of photographs, > the Author stumbled upon photographs from a trip she took to Syria in > 2008–a Syria unrecognizable from the Syria of today. Rather than dwell on > that tragedy, the Author would prefer to recall one of the many ar” >

  2. 8 March, 2016 12:30 pm

    It was a fascinating trip! I went to visit some St Andrews friends who were studying in Damascus. I never felt unsafe during my trip. In fact, everyone I met was extra friendly when they found out I was American. So terribly sad what is happening now.

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