Distance between the Syrian Cities
Flag and Anthem
Historical Spots of Damascus
The most famous medieval citadel in the world, Qal'at
Al Hosn is 65 km west of Homs and 75 km south-east of Tartus. It is
650 meters above sea-level. It was built in order to control the so
called Homs Gap,the gate-way to Syria. It was through this passage
that Syria communicated with the Mediterranean.
ancient time the importance of the strategic corridor was immense.
It was crucial importance to the Crusaders and other foreign
invaders in their conquest of the coast. Conflict over the Crac des
Chevaliers continued through the ages. It was a fierce and bloody
dispute, but in the en, Sultan Beybars managed to recover it in 1271
through a military trick and one month of fighting.
Crac des Chevaliers was built on the site of a former castle erected
by the emirs of Homs to accommodate Kurdish garrisons; 'Crac' is a
modification of the Arab word 'Qal'a'. The citadel covers an area of
3000 sq m and has 13 huge towers, in addition to many stores, tanks,
corridors, bridges and stables. It can accommodate 5000 soldiers
with their horses, their equipment and provisions for five years.
Formerly 'Saone' (and still known as Castle Sahyoun),
it was recently named after the great hero of Islam, Salah al-Din,
to commemorate the capture of the fortress in 1188.
Though the importance of the position had been exploited before the
Crusades, this castle was described as the most impregnable Crusader
fortress. It stands on a rocky spur whose vertical walls rise above
the junction of two fast-flowing streams. As late as 1965 it was
impossible to reach it except on foot or on horseback by a difficult
climb, first downhill and then up again after fording a stream. The
fortress was completely isolated from the plateau by a deep ditch
was 156 m long, 18 m wide and 28 m deep. Its vertical walls show a
smooth, fine yellowish rock surface.
Today there is a drawbridge and a road which provide easy access to
the foot of this 'eagle's nest'.
Visitors can park their cars at the bottom of this ditch, opposite
the horse's mangers and hitching holes carved out of the rock.
citadel is only 6 km south-east of Banyas, and is 500 m above
sea-level. It is enormous: there are not less than 14 sq and round
towers jutting from the curtain wall that encircles the hilltop to
form a triangular bastion. Its southern corner, sharper than the
others and bristling with defenses, has a keep rising above it like
the prow of a ship. What makes it particularly glowering is the
black basalt stone with which it was built. There are beautiful
gardens and orchards surrounding it and sea is not far away. This
citadel could accommodate 1000 people, in addition to the garrison,
along with provisions to last them for five years.
It was not until 1285 that the troops of Sultan Qalaun defeated the
last of the European Knights were granted 'the honours of war' and
allowed to withdraw under safe conduct to Tartus and Tripoli. There
is an Arabic inscription commemorating this great victory, carved on
a band of white limestone at the top of the 'tour de L'Eperon' under