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Crusader Castles

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Belvoir Castle

The security of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century was dependent upon a network of fortifications, mainly along its eastern border which was vulnerable to Muslim attacks.

The Hospitaller castle of Belvoir was one of these. It is the first datable true concentric castle. It was built shortly after 1168 on top of a basalt plateau. Twelfth century Muslim historians refer to it as a ‘nest of eagles' and the 'dwelling place of the moon’. About 50 knights and 450 soldiers lived in Belvoir, along with their families and staff.

Though in ruins it is one of the best preserved crusader castles in Israel - and not to be confused with the castle in England also called Belvoir Castle.

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Krak des Chevaliers

Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader fortress in Syria. It is one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world, and one of the most spectacular. T. E. Lawrence described it as “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world”. In its prime it garrisoned some 2,000 men. In places the walls are 100 feet thick.

It is also known as Kerak des Chevaliers and as Crac des Chevaliers.

It is one of many fortresses that were part of a defensive network along the border of the old Crusader states. The fortress controlled the road to the Mediterranean, and from this base, the Knights Hospitallers could exert some influence over Lake Homs to the east to control the fishing industry and watch for Muslim armies gathering in Syria.

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Margat Castle (or Marquab Castle)

Margat Castle, near Baniyas in Syria, was a Crusader fortress. It was one of the major strongholds of the Knights Hospitaller. Like the Krak des Chevaliers, Margat is a large spur castle with many elements of a concentric castle.

It was a stronghold of the Knights Templar, besieged without success by the great Saladin.

The castle has been in a poor state until 2007, when some reconstruction and renovation started. It is now open to the public.

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Citadel of Salah Ed-Din (Saladin Castle)

The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din is a castle in Syria, named after the great Molem leader known in the West as Saladin. There had been a fortress here in ancient timesand the crusader fortress is just one in a succession of military buildings on this side. It is a concentric castle built on spur which provides natural defences. Along with Krak it is aWorld Heritage Site.

The Arabs, the Byzantines, and the Crusaders fought to control this castle. Byzantines fortified it around the year 1000 with 3 walls, 5 meters in thickness. Crusaders later added the eastern moat. With its 24 meters high tower, its small defensive towers, squares, and stables it became invincible. Near the Byzantine fortifications are the remains of an old church used by the Byzantines, and later by the Crusaders.

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