Friday, 11 June 2010

Visit to Crak des Chavaliers Crusader castle - Syria - Lawrence Exped spring 2010

AW meeting a fellow UK tourist at Crak castle. This girl was travelling around the Middle East sights with her friend. They had hired a car and driver to take them around.
Crak des Chavaliers Crusader castle has been on my 'hit list' of things to see for over 20 years.
The castle lies at the top of a 650m high hill, 40kms west of the city of Homs. It was built in 1031 and expanded in 1150 and again in 1250. Crak was the headquarters of the Knights Hospitalle during the Crusades.
I made Crak castle my prinicipal objective in Syria. T.E. Lawrence visited the castle in 1909 during his walking tour of the Crusdaer castles researching for his thesis. Lawrence declared Crak to be 'the finest castle in the world'.
I began to cycle west from Homs but I was glad to be offered, and to accept, a lift in the back of a truck for most of the way. There remained a 12km ride up a very steep road. A strong fierce wind built up as I tried to make my way up the hill. It became too dangerous for cycling, so I called it a day and put my tent up shielded behind a grove of trees. Next morning the wind had disappeared and I was able to reach the castle safely. I have always thought the castle would be more remotely isolated than it in fact is. There is a road around the castle and a couple of restaurants nearby. The admission to the castle is 150 Syrian pounds.
At the end of the day I pitched my tent in the grounds of one of the restaurants bearly 30 metres from the castle. A splendid view from my tent door. However I was ill in the night having eaten a dodgy buffet meal from the restaurant.

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