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North-Eastern Provinces

Deir Ezzor


  • Crac des Chevaliers:

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.

In 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.

  • Salah Al Din Citadel (Qala'a):

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.

  • Al Marqab Citadel:

This 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 the keep.

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