The most famous medieval citadel in the
world, Krak des Chevaliers (Qal'at Al-Hosn in Arabic) is 65 km west of
Homs and 75 km south-east of Tartus.
It was built in order to control the
so-called "Homs Gap", the gateway to Syria. It was through this passage
that Syria communicated with the Mediterranean.
In ancient times the importance of this
strategic corridor was immense. It was of crucial importance to the
Crusaders and other foreign invaders in their conquest of the coast.
Conflict over the Krak des Chevaliers continued through the ages. It was
a fierce and bloody dispute, but in the end, Sultan Beybars managed to
recover it in 1271 through a military trick after one month of fighting.
Krak des Chevaliers was built on the site
of a former castle erected by the Emirs of Homs to accommodate Kurdish
garrisons; Krak is a modification of the Arab word Qal'a, which means
citadel. The citadel covers an area of 3000 square meters and has 13
huge towers, in addition to many stores, tanks, corridors, bridges and
stables. It can accommodate 5000 soldiers with their horses, their
equipment and provisions for five years.