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Dal sito Les Capétiens directs: «Le nom de "kraks" dérive du syriaque karak, "forteresse". Dans le cadre de leur mission défensive de la Chrétienté en Terre Sainte, les templiers consolident les territoires occupés en construisant ou en adaptant des forteresses, que l'on nomme Kraks.
Le Krak (ou Crac) des Chevaliers, achevé au XIIIe siècle, est un modèle de perfection en matière de fortification médiévale: il tient une place considérable dans l'histoire de l'architecture militaire du Moyen Age. Philippe Auguste, Richard Coeur de Lion ou Saint Louis s'en inspireront. Il sera confié à l'Ordre des Hospitaliers en 1142.
Ce Krak complétait au nord la double ligne de défense des Etats latins d'Orient. Campé sur une hauteur, il permettait de surveiller le passage stratégique de la "trouée" de Homs, empêchant ainsi toute irruption des musulmans sur la côte. Celui qui occupe cette position maîtrise la Syrie entière car il isole l'arrière pays de sa façade maritime.
Les croisés en firent donc l'élément de base de leur système de places fortes sur la côte.
Elle couvre 3 hectares, compte 13 grandes tours et comprend de nombreuses salles, passages, ponts et étables. Elle pouvait contenir jusqu'à 2000 combattants avec leurs chevaux et dans ses magasins ou citernes, elle contenait suffisamment de provisions pour les faire vivre durant 5 ans!
Elle est si vaste, tellement inexpugnable et si parfaitement construite et les combats livrés pour sa maîtrise ont été si violents qu'elle est devenue le symbole des luttes entre les occidentaux qui voulaient se maintenir dans les colonies établies loin de leurs pays en Terre Sainte et les armées arabes et musulmanes prêtes au plus grand sacrifice pour récupérer leur terre.
Ces luttes durèrent jusqu'à ce que le Sultan Baibars, utilisant une tactique militaire exceptionnelle, parvienne à l'enlever en 1271 après seulement un mois de combats après une résistance acharnée de 200 chevaliers».
Dal sito Syrialive.net: «The Castle is located at an altitude of 650 meters, on the top of a volcanic cliff. The view, as seen from its towers, covers a vast land extending from Mount Lebanon to the valleys of Homs and the Mediterranean shores, where the sea scintillates under the twilight of the sun. Yves Traynard, the author of a travel guide to Syria has suggested that: “The proximity of various calm and nice Hotels makes it a particularly appreciated location for tourists to rest and contemplate after a busy itinerary throughout the grand cities and the desert of Syria”.
From the outside this fortress is intimidating in its grandeur and power. The south side of the Krak was the most vulnerable and Sultan Baybars added a strong bastion to it. The western side is quite ordinary with its curtain wall and five cylindrical towers strengthening it. The northern wing has a postern which is situated between two square shaped towers.
Situated on a volcanic hill at 750 m. above sea level and at 60 Kms west of Homs. It is not definite who built it first. What is known about it is that it was built many centuries B.C. and was called (The Kurds Citadel). In the years 1099 - 1110 A.D. it was occupied by the Crussaders. In 1142 the Crussader Prince of Tripoli handed it over to the Knights of the hospital, until the Arab Sultan Bebars conquered it with a skillful military plan in 1271. Then it was evicted from the soldiers in 1934, to become a tourist site known as the Crac des
The defensive plan is featured by two separate lines of defence, an outer curtained wall with several cylindrical towers, and what is known as the inner ring. They are separated by a ditch except which runs around the inner ring except in the south where there is a reservoir. The inner fortress was used as the crusader castle. The entrance has a wide ramp and a vaulted passage that leads you to the outer ring and on to a platform that links to the inner castle. Large taluses were added to the southwest and east sides to strengthen the outer wall and to make it earthquake resistant. There is a small chapel to the east of the entrance that was transformed into a mosque by Baibars, and of that mosque remains a mihrab and three minbars. Opposite the chapel are three powerful towers that strengthen the south wall. The weakest of the towers was occupied by the Master (the Grand Master of the Order). There is a spiral staircase that takes you up into his room that is round and has a cross-ribbed vault, which is supported by columns. It is linked to the bastion by a two-story lodging that is of Gothic architecture, which was being used in France at the time. There are three beautiful windows that look out from both floors. The third and most impressive of the towers is linked to the keep by a massif instead of a wall, on which many war machines would be put (Catapults, etc.). From this tower, the five-sided erection that Baibars later altered could be controlled».
Sulla storia del Crac, vedi anche, in italiano: medievale.it
Per saperne di più
Giovanni COPPOLA, Fortezze medievali in Siria e Libano al tempo delle Crociate, Salerno 2002.
Sulle crociate viste dagli arabi: Les Capétiens directs.
L'immagine di copertina e la pianta del castello sono tratte dal sito: crac.htm; le altre dai siti: dest27.html, http://www.lingbeek.com/travel/Syria.html, http://www.fortunecity.com/tattooine/wyndham/128/krak.htm,
Altre immagini nei siti: http://www.flat3.co.uk/levant/pages/index_crac.htm, http://babsouria.online.fr/gald772.htm, krak des chevaliers, http://xoomer.virgilio.it/panorami/krak.htm, http://his.nicolas.free.fr/Histoire/Monuments/Chateaux/Krak/Krak.html.