Built by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, the Crusades-era fortress Krac des Chevaliers is one of the most breathtaking sites in Syria. If you have time to visit just one attraction outside of Damascus, make it this one.
The fortress commands the only significant pass between Turkey and Lebanon—a strategic asset in its time. (It once held a garrison of 4,000 men and 1,000 horses.) Set on a high hill amid tall mountains 140 mi/200 km north of Damascus, it offers a scenic valley view.
Allow at least half a day to roam around the unique double wall that encloses the massive fortress, the Frankish and Arabic towers, gates, courtyard, chapel and the now-empty moat (which was laboriously chipped out of solid rock). The square tower on the south wall was rebuilt after 1271, when Muslim forces breached the structure.
Take a flashlight to explore every nook and cranny, and be sure to walk to the small hill to the southwest for the best view of the castle.
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