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History & Heritage


A tour through crusader castles in the Middle East

Middle Eastern history is replete with episodes of fervor, conquest, and cultural exchange, but few periods evoke as much intrigue as the era of the Crusades in the Middle East. But what is left of that era today?

Krak des Chevaliers, Syria

Krak des Chevaliers, situated atop a commanding 650-meter hill, is an exemplar of Crusader military architecture. Serving as the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallier during the 12th and 13th centuries, it boasts the distinction of being one of the best-preserved Crusader fortresses in existence. This fortress was constructed to endure sieges lasting up to five years and was an obstacle on the route from Antioch to Beirut. In 1271, it fell to Mameluke Sultan Baibars, marking a significant turning point in Middle Eastern history.


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Kerak Castle, Jordan

Kerak Castle, located in southern Jordan along the ancient King’s Highway, is an imposing 12th-century Crusader fortress. Described as “the most marvellous, most inaccessible and most celebrated of castles,” it has roots that trace back to biblical times. During the Crusades, it assumed its current form and served as a vital strategic stronghold, perched 900 meters above sea level. Today, visitors can explore its intricate maze of corridors and dungeons.


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Shobak Montreal Castle, Jordan

In the remote corners of Jordan stands Shobak Montreal Castle, a silent witness to the early 12th-century Crusades. Built by Baldwin I of Jerusalem, this fortress was strategically positioned along crucial trade routes, making it a launchpad for Crusader raids on caravan convoys. Saladin’s prolonged siege in 1189 eventually led to its fall. Today, the castle lies in ruins, yet its outer walls, internal chambers, and enigmatic tunnel beckon adventurers to explore its secrets.


Beaufort Castle, Lebanon

Named “Beau Fort” or beautiful castle in French, the Beaufort Castle perched above the plains of southern Lebanon was captured and recaptured numerous times during the Crusades. Constructed by Fulk, King of Jerusalem, in 1139, it changed hands between the Crusaders, Saladin, and the enigmatic Knights Templar.


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