While in Syria, four of us from the hostel went to see Crac des Chevaliers, the most famous and intact of the crusader castles. TE Lawrence (who, as an undergrad, studied medieval military architecture) described Crac des Chevaliers as "undoubtedly the most impressive fortress in the world." Like everywhere else I've been in Syria, it is relatively empty of tourists - which significantly enhances its ambiance.
By popular request, a picture of moi (uh, yes, still here):
Crac des Chevaliers was built in 1031 by the Emir of Aleppo. It was captured in 1099 during the First Crusade. It was finally re-taken in 1271 during the Eighth Crusade through trickery rather than physical breach.
This is a group of schoolgirls on a field trip. They, as is common with anyone you meet in Syria, wanted to practice their English with us as well as ask about our countries.
The Syrian countryside is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful:
Following our visit to the castle, we stopped on the way back at St George Monastery, built in the 6th century. At the same site is the 'new' church, built in the 12th century.
The original church:
It was, all in all, a pleasant day out. On the way back, our driver stopped at his cousin's house. They invited us in for coffee and then invited us to spend the night. Syrians - the most hospitable people on earth!
So - who's coming to visit me?