Crac des Chevaliers, Syria
The most famous medieval citadel in the world, Crac des Chevaliers (Qal'at Al-Hosn in Arabic) is 65 km west of Homs and 75 km south-east of Tartus.
It was built in order to control the so-called "Homs Gap", the gateway to Syria. It was through this passage that Syria communicated with the Mediterranean.
In ancient times the importance of this strategic corridor was immense. It was of 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 end, Sultan Beybars managed to recover it in 1271 through a military trick after 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, which means citadel. The citadel covers an area of 3000 square meters 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.