Day of Three Castles
Hama Travel Blog› entry 14 of 32 › view all entries
Today is the reason I came back to Syria (apart from the fact that I had expiring Emirates Skywards miles to use up). I wanted to re-visit Crac de Chevalier, which is the most impressive crusader castle!
The Riad Hotel organised a trip for SYP1100 (about EUR17) for nearly 11 hours (including waiting) use of a car and driver shared with four other people.
We started with a stop to Musyaf Citadel which has its origins with the Crusade down the region in the 1100s but most of what is seen is mixed Ismaili sect and Ottoman construction.
Next was Marqab Citadel which was built from black basalt rock by the Crusaders in the 1100s, adding on to an earlier Muslim citadel. The Citadel eventually fell to Muslim hands later in the same century.
Crac de Chevalier (Qalaat al-Hosn)
TE Lawrence described it as the finest castle in the world. The sheer size of it is sure to wow any visitor.
It was built by the Crusaders in the 1100s based on an earlier local structure. It was taken over by the Ottoman in 1271 and the mixed history is reflected in parts of the current architecture seen now.
It is an incredibly intact castle but some reconstructions have been reconstructed done “too nicely”.
After the long day of walking and climbing (broken only by a delicious mezze lunch overlooking Crac), I was shattered. Chase, a fellow traveller, treated me to a well-earned beer on the rooftop of our hotel overlooking Hama city.
My dream home will have a flat roof ... for evening drinks ... and a courtyard for the hot afternoons. Dream on!
Despite a conservative country, beer is cheap in Syria. A tall tin of beer costs a little more than a standard soft drink. Likewise a packet of cigarettes is about the same price as a soft drink. There’s no sin-tax on these items here!
Due to the diverse religious mix here, alcohol is available quite readily. Unlike some countries, one doesn't need to own a license to buy alcohol.