A guest post by Andy Jarosz from 501 places.
Krak des Chevaliers
It is often said the adventure is more about the journey than the destination. So it proved on our visit to the Krak des Chevaliers, a hilltop fortress in western Syria. We left Damascus in our rental car in the warm spring sunshine, and only two hours later we were scrambling through our luggage in a desolate car park, trying to find every layer of clothing we could fit on to shield ourselves from the arctic blasts that came at us from all sides. Syria wasn’t meant to be like this!
Once wrapped up as best we could, we started exploring this incredible site. It is described by TE Lawrence as the best preserved castle in the world, and while I have visited many old ruins of European castles I never before found it so easy to transport myself back to the past.
The structure of the castle is so much intact that it is easy to wander through the galleries and the great hall of this crusader stronghold and imagine how the knights would have lived and worked here some 900 years ago. As someone with a fascination in history I was inspired by this wonderful structure, knowing that I was sharing the footsteps and the vistas of many illustrious characters who had gone before.
Krak des Chevaliers is now a World Heritage Site, and as it is only a minor detour on the road from Damascus to Aleppo it attracts a regular flow of tourist traffic. In fact the coaches started to arrive as we were leaving, and the visitors were no doubt surprised to find the winds on this isolated mountain top were strong enough to make even walking in a straight line a struggle. If the Syrian tourist authorities are looking for a catchy marketing slogan for this historic site, may I suggest: “Krak des Chevaliers – it will blow you away”.
About this week’s guest writer
Andy Jarosz is a passionate traveller and a professional writer whom only recently has started to link his work with his passion. Writing in corporate magazines and creating website content might pay the bills, but it is recounting the experiences of his 20+ years of semi-nomadic existence that really get the creative juices flowing. His travel blog 501 places is a selection of his experiences from his travels, and is updated daily.
Follow Andy on Twitter.
Read the first ‘Places That Inspire‘ post.
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Send a photo of a place that has inspired you in some way or other, as well as a few paragraphs of why/how it has inspired you (about 250 words) to keith[ad]velvetescape[dot]com. Submissions will be accepted based on the quality of the photo and the text. Please include a short bio, your blog URL and Twitter name (if applicable). Thank you!
[…] travel lists for 2011 and I can’t agree more. With its great historical treasures such as the Krak des Chevaliers and the cities of Damascus and Palmyra, deep-rooted traditions and charming souks, Syria is a […]
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We saw Kerak a few days before heading up to Syria. Both are very impressive sights. In some ways my memories are Kerak are happier as we had glorious sunshine there!
Krak des Chevaliers is probably the more complete of the two, but my advice is go and see both 🙂
Yup, I haven’t been to Syria YET but I visited several Crusader castles in Jordan like the Karak Castle and they’re absolutely impressive.
I hope to visit Syria one day, as I heard that the Crusader castles are an awesome sight!