Krak des Chevaliers
Ok. That is the history bit. When you first see the Krak there is no realisation of the size of it. As you start to wind up the hill through the village –twist after turn after hairpin, you begin to realise how enormous the castle is. Walk in to the Krak and your hair lifts in the breeze, but there is also a tingle in the back of your neck, and the hair lifting on your arms that is nothing to do with the wind that swirls down through the long curved passages between the outer defences and the inner walls. You walk in shadow through honey coloured stone walls, on honey coloured stone slabs, and the wide and steep entrance twists and bends to the right as you are coming in, so the swing of an intruder’s sword arm was limited by the wall.
Inside there is almost a suggestion of a theme park, as the preservation of this castle is so perfect. Arrow slits in the walls let in narrow shafts of air and light, with dust swirling in the fingers of wind that reach even through these narrow slits. Small square openings in the roof light the areas below, and there are also square opening in the floor to pass some of the light to rooms below. These have a metal grid over the top stop unwary tourists from falling through.
I am starting to think that pictures just might do this better than I can. There is just too much.
The last photo on the right is the bread ovens - there could be up to three thousand people in the castle, and that is a lot of bread.
The toilets from Crusader times. Anything deposited here ran down the outside walls to the moat.
This game in the photo at the bottom right is carved into the windowsill, and is widely played in Islamic countries and in Africa. It is a wonderful game, and can be played at many different levels. My children introduced it into their schools in Australia on maths project days.
Remains of a $4 mezze. Unfortunately we scoffed the hummus and the best-ever baba ghannouj - there was more than three of us could eat.
The Lebanese ranges, complete with snow, were to the left.
The view along the only existing moat showing the inner defensive walls.
A farewell glimpse from a higher point.