The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          

 


Syria

Al Marqab Castle

Only 6 Km from Banias, this magnificent castle sits on the side of an extinct volcano, over watching the sea. Called Qalaat Al Marqab in Arabic it means Castle of the watchtower. This is where Richard the Lionheart landed at the beginning of the third crusade.

Founded in 1062 by the Muslim Arabs it was then taken over by the Byzantines then somehow passed into the hands of the principality of Antioch at an unknown date. It was then sold to the Hospitallers in 1186 and was rebuilt to the latest Frankish military standards of architecture and used by the crusaders until it fell into the hands of Sultan Qalaun in 1285, after only 5 weeks of battle.

The most important aspects and features of this fortress, are the keep and the chapel. The round keep is a massive tower of strength, and at a diameter of nearly 29 meters and walls of 5 meters thick it is quite typical of 12th century Hospitallers work. From the top magnificent views of the mountains and the coast can be seen, not to mention the beautiful view of the Mediterranean.

As for the chapel, it is entered by two entrances one from the north and the other from the west (up some steps). This chapel, also built in the 12th century is a magnificent example of Gothic art, with traces of Romanesque. Although this chapel is relatively small the fact that there are no aisles makes it quite spacious, this is typical of Gothic art. There are three pointed arches, one decorated in black and white, one undecorated but supported with Corinthian capitalized columns. The rounded apse is two steps higher than the rest of the chapel, and there are two small rooms behind it. The chapel is beautiful in its simplicity.

 
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