Facts and Data
Official Unesco Page
Unesco World heritage since: 2006
Size of heritage: 8.87 ha
- Buffer zone: 167 ha
These two castles represent the most significant examples illustrating the exchange of influences and documenting the evolution of fortified architecture in the Near East during the time of the Crusades (11th - 13th centuries). The Crac des Chevaliers was built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem from 1142 to 1271. With further construction by the Mamluks in the late 13th century, it ranks among the best-preserved examples of the Crusader castles. The Qal’at Salah El-Din (Fortress of Saladin), even though partly in ruins, represents an outstanding example of this type of fortification, both in terms of the quality of construction and the survival of historical stratigraphy. It retains features from its Byzantine beginnings in the 10th century, the Frankish transformations in the late 12th century and fortifications added by the Ayyubid dynasty (late 12th to mid-13th century).
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Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Syria
The Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din, located in the municipalities of Al Hosn and Haffeh in Syria, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that holds immense historical and architectural significance. These two medieval castles are renowned for their strategic location and impressive fortifications, which have withstood the test of time.
The Crac des Chevaliers, also known as the Castle of the Knights, was built by the Knights Hospitaller, a Christian military order, in the 12th century. It served as a crucial stronghold during the Crusades, protecting the Christian territories in the Levant. The castle's construction took several decades, and it was continuously expanded and fortified over the years.
Qal’at Salah El-Din, also referred to as the Fortress of Saladin, was constructed in the 12th century by the Ayyubid dynasty, under the leadership of Saladin. It was strategically positioned to defend against the Crusaders and served as a symbol of resistance against their incursions.
Both castles played significant roles in the conflicts between the Crusaders and Muslim forces during the medieval period. They witnessed numerous sieges, battles, and changing hands between different factions. Despite the turbulent history, the castles remained standing, showcasing the architectural prowess and military ingenuity of their builders.
Tragically, the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din have been severely impacted by the ongoing conflict in Syria. The castles have suffered damage due to shelling, looting, and occupation by armed groups. The destruction of nearby towns and infrastructure has also affected the surrounding areas.
UNESCO has expressed deep concern over the state of these World Heritage sites and has called for their protection. The organization has been working closely with local authorities and international partners to assess the damage and develop strategies for their preservation and restoration once the situation stabilizes.
Efforts have been made to document the damage and prevent further deterioration. A team of experts has conducted detailed surveys and assessments to understand the extent of the destruction and develop plans for future restoration. The aim is to ensure that the historical and architectural value of these castles is preserved for future generations.
Despite the challenges, there have been some positive developments. In 2018, the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, with the support of UNESCO, successfully carried out emergency stabilization work at the Crac des Chevaliers. This work aimed to safeguard the castle's structural integrity and prevent further damage.
While the current state of the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din is a cause for concern, there is hope that these remarkable UNESCO World Heritage sites can be restored to their former glory. The international community continues to advocate for their protection and preservation, recognizing their historical, cultural, and architectural significance.
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Large airport - 46 mi (75 km) Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport
Large airport - 80 mi (129 km) Damascus International Airport
Large airport - 96 mi (155 km) Hatay Airport
Medium airport - 109 mi (176 km) Aleppo International Airport
Large airport - 111 mi (179 km) Kiryat Shmona Airport
Small airport - 115 mi (185 km) İskenderun Airport
Small airport - 124 mi (200 km) Ben Ya'akov Airport
Medium airport - 131 mi (211 km) Adana Airport
Large airport - 162 mi (261 km)
Bigger and popular cities in the wider vicinity are these:
- Ad Duraykish
- Al Bariqiyah
- Al Hawash
- Al Karimah
- Al Qabw
- Al Qamsiyah
- An Nasirah
- As Safsafah
- As Sisniyah
- Ash Shaykh Badr
- Brummanat al Mashayikh
- Duwayr Raslan
- Junaynat Raslan
- Mashta al Hulw
- Ra's al Khashufah
- Wadi Al -Uyun
- `Ayn Halaqim
These are some smaller cities that might be interesting. They are all rather close.
- Al Hasarjiyah
- Al Hikkiyah
- Al Mashtayah
- Ash Shuwayhid
- At Tallah
- Az Zuwaytinah
- Bayt Aslan
- Habb Nimrah
- Harat at Turkuman
- Jawar al `Afs
- Judaydat Hazzur
- Mashta `Azar
- Qal`at Nimrah
- Qal`at al Hisn
- Qurb `Ali
- `Amar al Hisn
- `Ayn ar Rahib
- `Ayn ar Rayhan