The Crak of the Knights

3d model and reconstruction

The Crak of the Knights

Virtual reconstruction of the huge Syrian fortress in its original aspect, integrated with some parts now destroyed.

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Short history of

The Crak of the Knights

Crak of the Knights is an impressive and well-preserved perched fortress strategically located on a mountain dominating the valley of Bukaia (in modern Syria) between the city of Homs and the Lebanese chain. Due to its construction characteristics and its location it has long been among the most impregnable Crusader castles in the Holy Land.

It was originally a fortified position built by the Kurds in 1031. In 1110 it was conquered by Tancred of Antioch who later, in 1142, sold it to the Knights of Malta, who restructured and extended it for a long time, turning it into a powerful military garrison which held possession for 130 years. With the defeat of the Crusader states, the Crak was isolated and surrounded by hostile territory. Various attempts to conquer it were vain, first Nureddin and Saladin later. Only in 1271 the Sultan Baibars was able to occupy the fortress, allowing riders to retire in Tripoli. When the fortress lost its function and the strategic interest, the Crak was reduced to a village.

Crak is perhaps the largest castle in the world, with an area of over 30 thousand square meters. In times of need it could accommodate 2000 to 4000 people. The fortress, surrounded by walls with thirteen towers, is structured in two parts, separated by a moat: a lower and an upper. In the first there were the gatehouse, stables and the service rooms. The second part, the upper fortress, was composed of thick walls with several rooms available for the protection of the complex. The castle was served by an aqueduct and equipped with large tanks, a huge furnace and a windmill to grind grain. From the entrance, a long ramp with steps still connects the outer walls with the upper fortress; the ramp has several bends and some interruptions on the ceiling, from where the defenders could strike with fire pouncing, from top to bottom, any strikers who had overcome the first defences. In the north of the courtyard is a chapel, later transformed into a mosque with its minbar. To the south are imposed three sturdy towers – the last reduced to defence – with the tower called “the king’s daughter” and housing of grand master.