The world's most impressive Crusader castle is widely considered to be Krak des Chevaliers. It was built by the Knights Hospitaller during the time of the Crusades. Today one can see Crusader castles all around the Eastern Mediterranean (although none measures up to Krak des Chevaliers in beauty, size, and preservation). If visiting Israel, visit the ancient city of Caesarea and see a mix of ruins with Herod's old palace, an old Roman hippodrome, and an old Crusader castle partially made out of the old Roman ruins.

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Unfortunately, the castle is in Syria which is not considered safe to visit today. If one would like to visit impressive ancient architecture in the region, then consider visiting the awe-inspiring ruins of Petra in Jordan. Petra was made famous for featuring in the movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and is now a powerful monument and symbol of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

History Of Krak de Chevaliers In The Crusader Kingdoms

Today the Krak des Chevaliers is considered not only the most beautiful Crusader castle but also one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. The Crusader world was broken up into a series of largely petty kingdoms with the most notable being the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Krak des Chevaliers was part of the County of Tripoli.

  • Preserved: One Of The Best Preserved Medieval Castles In The World

The County of Tripoli was the last of the Crusader states and mostly occupied part of what is today northern Lebanon as well as parts of western Syria. It was ruled by Frankish Crusaders (mostly southern France) as a vassal to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It existed between 1102 and 1289 when it fell to the Mamluks of Egypt.

  • Part Of: The County of Tripoli
  • Crusaders: The Knights Hospitaller
  • Duration: The County of Tripoli Existed From 1102 to 1289

Krak des Chevaliers was rebuilt from an earlier castle. In fact, it seems there has been a fortress on the strategic site since as early as the 13th century BC. It was built in the 1140s and was finished by 1170 when it was damaged by an earthquake but repaired.

The second phase of its construction happened in the 13th century when it became a concentric castle. It was part of a number of castles built along the border of the warring County of Tripoli and was one of the most important. It was an important military base and a center of administration.

Related: What To Know About The Ancient Tunnels Under Jerusalem

Importance of Krak des Chevaliers

At its peak, Krak des Chevaliers had an impressive garrison of around 2,000. Castles were not only for defense, they were for control of the surrounding region, and with such a large force in the castle, it could also exact tribute from a large area.

  • Homs Gap: It Controlled The Strategically Important Route From Tripoli to Homs

The castle is set atop a 650-meter-high (2,130 ft) hill in Syria. It once controlled the strategically important Homs Gap that connect the important cities of Tripoli (now in Lebanon) with Homs (now in Syria).

The Krak des Chevaliers Today

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. UNESCO

  • Listed: As A World Heritage Site

While many may think of the Crusaders as being just overly zealous warriors, there was more to them. Krak des Chevaliers is one of the few sites where Crusader art (frescoes) has been preserved. A number of medieval frescoes were discovered in the 20th century as the later layers of plaster and white wash covering the up had faded.

  • Frescos: Faded Remnants of Crusader Art Has Been Found In The Castle

Frescos can be found on both the interior and the exterior of the main chapel.

Related: Here Are Some Tips For Keeping Safe While Traveling (No Matter The Trip Type)

Visiting Krak de Chevaliers Today

Today Krak de Chevaliers is located in modern-day Syria and the government there has worked to repair and conserve the iconic structure. It is not advisable to visit Syria currently and so one should put it on one's bucket list for when the time is right.

  • Syria: Travel Warning in Place As of May 2022

As of May 2022, the U.S. Department of State is advising against all travel to Syria. See their website for updates on when conditions may improve in the future.