Krak des Chevaliers

Location: 65 km West of Homs, Homs Governorate Map

Open: 9am-6pm summer

9am-4pm winter

Phone: 740-002



The Crac of the Knights (French pronunciation: /kʁak de ʃəvaˈlje/; Arabic: حصن الفرسان), also Crac des Chevaliers, Kurds») and previously Crac de l'Ospital, is a large medieval mountain castle located in present-day Syria, which was the headquarters of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in Syrian territory during the time of the Crusades. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world. The place was first inhabited in the 11th century by a settlement of Kurdish troops stationed there by the Mirdasids. As a result, it was known as Hisn al-Akrad, meaning the "Castle of the Kurds." In 1142 it was handed over by Raymond II, count of Tripoli, to the Knights Hospitaller. It remained his until he fell in 1271. It was known as Crac de l'Ospital; The name Krak des Chevaliers was coined in the 19th century. According to the restoring architect, Leopoldo Torres Balbás, with its double walled enclosure it constitutes the prototype of the military architecture of the 12th and 13th centuries, its only parallel being the Alcazaba of Málaga that belongs to the Spanish Taifal period, in the 11th century.

The Hospitallers began rebuilding the castle in the 1140s and it was finished by 1170 when an earthquake damaged the castle. The order controlled a series of castles along the border of the county of Tripoli, a state founded after the First Crusade. The Crac de los Caballeros was among the most important, and acted as an administration center as well as a military base. After the second phase of construction was undertaken in the 13th century, the Crac de los Caballeros had become a concentric castle. This phase created the outer wall and gave the castle its current appearance. The first half of the century has been described as the "golden age" of the Crac de los Caballeros. At its peak, it housed a garrison of around two thousand knights. Such a large garrison allowed the Hospitallers to obtain tribute from a wide area. From the 1250s the fate of the Hospitallers worsened and in 1271 the Mamluk sultan Baibars captured the Crac of the Knights after a siege that lasted 36 days, supposedly thanks to a forged letter from the Grand Master of the Hospitallers that caused the knights to flee. they gave up.

Renewed interest in Crusader castles in the 19th century led to investigation of the Crac de los Caballeros, and architectural plans were drawn up. In the late 19th or early 20th century, a settlement had been created within the castle, causing damage to its factory. The 500 inhabitants were moved in 1933 and the castle was handed over to the French state, which carried out a program of cleaning and restoration. When Syria declared its independence in 1946, it assumed control of the place.

Currently, there is a town called al-Husn around the castle and it has a population of about 9,000 people. The Crac de los Caballeros is located approximately 40 km west of the city of Homs, near the Lebanese border, and is administratively part of the Homs Governorate.

It was included by UNESCO in the World Heritage Site in 2006 along with Saladin Castle. It was partially damaged in the Syrian civil war by bombing. On June 20, 2013, UNESCO included all Syrian sites on the list of World Heritage in Danger to warn of the risks to which it was exposed by the war. Syrian government forces recaptured it in 2014. Since then, reconstruction and conservation work has been undertaken. Both UNESCO and the Syrian government have issued annual reports on the state of the site.



The modern Arabic word for a castle is Kalaa (Arabic: قلعة‎), but the Crac of the Knights is known as a "Hosn" (Arabic: حصن‎), or "fort". This derives from the name of an earlier fortification at the same location called Ḥoṣn al-Akrād (Arabic: حصن الأكراد‎), which meant "fort of the Kurds". It was called by the Franks in French: Le Crat and then by a confusion with karak (fortress), French: Le Crac. Crat was probably the Frankish version of Akrād, the word for the Kurds. After the Hospitallers took control of the castle, it became known as in French: Crac de l'Ospital; The French name: Crac des Chevaliers (alternatively written in French: Krak des Chevaliers) was introduced by Guillaume Rey in the 19th century.



The castle is located on top of a hill 650 meters above sea level. n. m. east of Tartus, Syria, in the Hole of Homs. Across the hole, 27 km away, was the 12th-century castle of Gibelacar (Hisn Ibn Akkar). The route through the strategically important Hole of Homs connects the cities of Tripoli and Homs. To the north of the castle is Jebel Ansariyah, and to the south is Lebanon. The surrounding region is fertile, benefiting from streams and abundant rainfall. Compared to the kingdom of Jerusalem, the other Crusader states had less land suitable for agriculture; However, the limestone peaks of Tripoli were suitable for defensive sites.

Property of the county of Tripoli, given to the knights in the 1140s, including the Crac de los Caballeros, the cities of Rafanea and Montferrand, and the Bekaa plain separating Homs and Tripoli. Homs was never under Crusader control, so the region around Crac de los Caballeros was vulnerable to expeditions from the city. While its proximity caused problems for the knights in relation to defending their territory, it also meant that Homs was close enough for them to sack. Because the castle dominated the plain, it became the most important base for knights in the area.




According to the 13th-century Arab historian Ibn Shaddad, in 1031, the Mirdasid emir of Aleppo and Homs, Shibl ad-Dawla Nasr, established a settlement of Kurdish tribal men at the site of the castle, which was then known as "Ḥiṣn al- Safḥ." Nasr restored Hisn al-Safh to help reestablish Mirdasid access to the coast of Tripoli after they lost nearby Hisn Ibn Akkar to the Fatimids in 1029. Because Nasr housed a Kurdish garrison At the site, the castle became known as "Ḥiṣn al-Akrād" (Castle of the Kurds). The castle was strategically located on a spur of the Syrian desert, at the southern end of the Jibal al-Alawiyin mountain range and dominated the road between Homs and Tripoli.​ When it came to building castles, engineers often chose elevated locations, such as hills and mountains, which provided natural obstacles.​

From this castle the route that linked the Syrian city of Homs (under Muslim rule) with Tripoli (Lebanon), capital of the county of the same name, on the Mediterranean coast, was protected. In addition to controlling the route to the Mediterranean, the Knights Hospitaller exerted some influence over Lake Homs to the east, where they could have controlled the fishing industry and watched over the Muslim armies gathering in Syria.

It was captured by Raymond IV of Toulouse in January 1099 during the First Crusade, on his journey to Jerusalem but was abandoned when the crusaders continued their route towards Jerusalem. Raymond's forces were attacked by the garrison of Hisn al-Akrad, the precursor of Crac, who was ravaging Raymond's foragers. The next day Raymond marched towards Jerusalem. Permanent occupation began in 1110 when Tancred of Galilee assumed control of the site. The early castle was substantially different from the existing remains, and no trace of this early castle remains at the site.

The origins of the Knights Hospitaller are unclear, but the order probably emerged around the 1070s in Jerusalem. It began as a religious order that cared for the sick, and later cared for pilgrims in the Holy Land. After the success of the First Crusade in capturing Jerusalem in 1099, many crusaders donated their new property in the Levant to St. John's Hospital. Among the first donations were in the newly formed Kingdom of Jerusalem, but over time the order extended its possessions to the Crusader states of the County of Tripoli and the Principality of Antioch. There is evidence to suggest that in the 1130s the order became militarized when Fulk, king of Jerusalem, granted the newly built castle at Beth Gibelin to the order in 1136. A papal bull from between 1139 and 1143 may indicate that The order hired people to defend the pilgrims. There were other military orders, such as the Knights Templar, which offered protection to pilgrims.

Between 1142 and 1144, Raymond II, Earl of Tripoli, gave the Knights Hospitaller property in the county. According to historian Jonathan Riley-Smith, the Hospitallers effectively established a "palatinate" within Tripoli. The property included castles with the that the Hospitallers were expected to defend Tripoli. Along with the Crac of the Knights, the Hospitallers received four other castles along the state's borders that allowed the order to dominate the area. The order's agreement with Raymond II stated that if he did not accompany the order's knights on campaign, the spoils belonged entirely to the order, and if he was present it was divided equally between the count and the order. Raymond II could not make peace with the Muslims without the permission of the Hospitallers. The Hospitallers made Crac de los Caballeros an administrative center for their new property, undertaking work on the castle that would turn it into one of the most elaborate Crusader fortifications. in the Levant.

After acquiring the site in 1142, they began building a new castle to replace the old Kurdish fortification. This work lasted until 1170, when an earthquake damaged the castle. An Arab source mentions that the earthquake destroyed the castle chapel, which was replaced by the current chapel. The knights built an imposing fortress, the largest in the Holy Land, which withstood at least twelve assaults by the Muslims.



In 1163, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Nur al-Din at the Battle of al-Buqaia near the Crac of the Knights. After this victory, the Hospitallers became a virtually independent force on the border of the county of Tripoli. Drought conditions between 1175 and 1180 prompted the crusaders to sign a two-year truce with the Muslims, but without Tripoli being included in its terms. During the 1180s, Christian and Muslim attacks on each other's territory became more frequent.

In 1180, Saladin entered the county of Tripoli, plundering the area. Unwilling to engage him in an open field battle, the crusaders retreated to the relative safety of their fortifications. Without capturing the castles, Saladin could not secure control of the area, and once he retreated, the Hospitallers were able to revitalize their damaged lands. The Battle of Hattin in 1187 was a disastrous defeat for the Crusaders: Guy de Lusignan, king of Jerusalem, was captured, as was the True Cross, a relic discovered during the First Crusade. Saladin then ordered the execution of the captured Knights Templar and Hospitaller, such was the importance of the two orders in defending the Crusader states. After the battle, the Hospitaller castles of Belmont, Belvoir and Bethgibelin fell into the hands of Muslim armies. After these losses, the order turned its attention to its castles in Tripoli.

It was besieged, also unsuccessfully, by Saladin in May 1188. Upon seeing the castle, he decided that it was too well defended and instead marched to the hospitable castle of Margat, which he also failed to capture.

In 1202 an earthquake affected part of the fortifications, so a profound restructuring was undertaken shortly after. The work of the 13th century was the last period of construction in the Crac de los Caballeros and gave it its current appearance. A closed stone circuit was built between 1142 and 1170; The previous structure became the inner enclosure of the castle. If there was a walled circuit around the inner courtyard prior to the current outer walls, no trace of it has been discovered.

The first half of the 13th century has been characterized as the "golden age" of the Crac de los Caballeros. While other Crusader fortresses became threatened, the Crac de los Caballeros and its garrison of some two thousand soldiers dominated the entire region around it. It was effectively the center of a principality that remained in Crusader hands until 1271 and was the only continental region of respectable size to remain consistently under Crusader control during this period. Crusaders passing through the area often stopped at the castle, and possibly made donations to it.

Godfrey of Joinville, uncle of the famous chronicler of the crusades Jean de Joinville, died in the Crac des Chevaliers in 1203 or 1204 and was buried in the castle chapel.

The main contemporary accounts in relation to the Crac of the Knights are of Muslim origin and tend to emphasize Muslim success while ignoring the setbacks and defeats against the crusaders although they suggest that the Knights Hospitaller forced them to pay tribute to the Order. the settlements of Hama and Homs. The situation lasted while Saladin's successors quarreled among themselves. The proximity of Crac de los Caballeros to Muslim territories allowed it to assume an offensive role, acting as a base from which to attack neighboring areas. By 1203 the garrison was making raids on Montferrand (which was under Muslim control) and Hama, and in 1207 and 1208 the castle's soldiers took part in an attack on Homs.

In 1217-1218, during the Fifth Crusade, King Andrew II of Hungary visited and proclaimed the castle to be the "key to the Christian lands." He was so impressed with the castle that he provided an annual income of 60 marks to the Master and 40 to the brothers; He strengthened the outer walls and financed the guard troops.

The Crac of the Knights functioned as a base for expeditions to Hama in 1230 and 1233 after the amir refused to pay tribute. The first was not successful, but the expedition of 1233 was a true display of strength that demonstrated the importance of the Crac de los Caballeros.

In the decade of the 1250s, the conditions of the hospitalers of the Crac de los Caballeros worsened. A Muslim army of approximately 10,000 men plundered the countryside around the castle in 1252 after which the order's finances declined sharply. In 1268 Master Hugh Revel complained that the area, once home to 10,000 people, was now deserted and that the Order's property in the kingdom of Jerusalem produced little income. He also noted that by then there were only 300 brothers of the Order in the east. On the Muslim side, in 1260 Baibars became sultan of Egypt, after overthrowing the then ruler, Qutuz, and proceeded to unite Egypt and Syria. As a result, Muslim settlements that had previously paid tribute to the Hospitallers in the Crac de los Caballeros no longer felt intimidated into doing so.

Baibars entered the region around Crac de los Caballeros in 1270 and allowed his men to graze his animals in the fields around the castle. When he learned of the Eighth Crusade, led by King Louis IX of France, Baibars left for Cairo to avoid confrontation.

After Louis died in 1272, and that crusade was considered unsuccessful, Baibars returned to face the Crac de los Caballeros. At that time the garrison of men was scarce, and sending aid from the west was impossible.

Before marching on the castle, the sultan captured minor castles in the area, including Chastel Blanc. On March 3, Baibars' army arrived at Crac de los Caballeros. By the time the sultan appeared on the scene, the castle may have already been blockaded by Mamluk forces for several days. Of the three Arab accounts that recount the siege , only one is contemporary, that of Ibn Shaddad, although he was not present at the site. The peasants who lived in the area had fled to the castle for safety and were kept in the outer compound. As soon as Baibars arrived he erected manganas, powerful assault weapons that he would later return on the castle. In a probable reference to the walled suburb outside the castle entrance, Ibn Shaddad documents that two days later the first line of defense fell to the besiegers.

Rain interrupted the siege, but on March 21, immediately south of Crac de los Caballeros, Baibar's forces captured a triangular outer work, possibly defended by a wooden palisade. On March 29, Baibars' forces mined the southwest tower of the outer wall until it collapsed. Baibars' army attacked through that gap. In the outer enclosure they met the peasants who had taken refuge in the castle. Although the outer enclosure had fallen, with a handful of defenders killed in the process, the crusaders retreated to the more formidable and imposing inner enclosure, which blocked the way to the attackers.

Baibars, not wanting to accept defeat or the possibility of a long siege, resorted to cunning. After a respite of ten days, according to Arab historians, he used a dove to send a false letter to the castle. The message claimed to come from the Grand Master of the Hospitaller Order and ordered the surrender of the troops, since it was not possible to send them any help there. The order was obeyed and Baibars was able to capture the fortress. Furthermore, he chivalrously granted the garrison safe conduct to travel to Tripoli.

Baibars refortified the fortress, focusing repairs mainly on the external enclosure. The hospital chapel was converted into a mosque and two mihrabs were added inside. Baibars used the Crac as a base in his campaign against Tripoli.


Later history

The Mamluks used the Knights' Crac in their attack on Saint John of Acre in 1291. After the Franks were expelled from the Holy Land in 1291, European familiarity with Crusader castles declined. It was not until the 19th century that interest in these buildings was renewed, so there was no detailed plan before 1837. Guillaume Rey was the first European researcher to scientifically study the Crusader castles in the Holy Land. In 1871 he published the work Etudes sur les monuments de l'architecture militaire des Croisés en Syrie et dans l'ile de Chypre; included plans and drawings of the main Crusader castles in Syria, including the Crac de los Caballeros. In some extremes, his drawings were imprecise, however for the Crac de los Caballeros he reflected features that have since been lost.

Paul Deschamps visited the castle in February 1927. Since Rey had visited it in the 19th century, a village of 500 inhabitants had settled inside the castle. This renovated room had damaged the place: the underground vaults were used to accumulate garbage and in some places the battlements had been destroyed. Deschamps and his colleague, architect François Anus, attempted to clean up some of the waste; General Maurice Gamelin assigned 60 Alawite soldiers to help. Deschamps left in March 1927, and work resumed when he returned two years later. The culmination of Deschamp's work on the castle was the publication of Les Châteaux des Croisés en Terre Sainte I: le Crac des Chevaliers in 1934, with detailed plans drawn up by Anus. This research has been highly praised, described as "brilliant and exhaustive" by military historian D. J. Cathcart King in 1949 and "perhaps the best account of the archeology and history of a single medieval castle ever written" by historian Hugh Kennedy in 1994.

As early as 1929 it was suggested that the castle should be controlled by the French. On November 16, 1933, the Crac des Chevaliers was handed over to the control of the French state, and was cared for by the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The locals were relocated and paid one million francs as compensation. Over the next two years a clean-up and restoration program was carried out by a force of 120 workers. Once completed, the Crac des Knights was one of the main tourist attractions in the French Levant. Pierre Coupel, who had undertaken similar work on the Tower of Lions and the two castles in Sidon, supervised the works. A Despite the restoration, no archaeological excavations were carried out. The French Mandate of Syria, which had been established in 1920, ended in 1946 with Syria's declaration of independence. The castle was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Saladin Citadel (Qal'at Salah El-Din), in 2006, and is owned by the Syrian government.

Several of the castle's former residents built their homes outside the fortress and a village called al-Husn has since developed. Many of al-Husn's approximately 9,000 Muslim residents benefit economically from the tourism generated by the site. .

Until the second decade of the 21st century, the castle remained remarkably well preserved and was a tourist attraction, but during the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, it was the center of numerous combats, especially between 2012 and 2013. UNESCO expressed concern that the war could lead to damage to important cultural sites such as the Crac de los Caballeros. Its walls have suffered damage of varying degrees from attacks with mortars, rockets and automatic weapons of different calibers. It was the subject of bombings in August 2012 by the Syrian Arab Army, and the cross chapel has been damaged.

Throughout 2013, the rebels have used the castle as a military base to attack, causing the government to maintain powerful bombing raids on the castle. These attacks have devastated the site and left it in ruins. Damage was documented in July 2013 from an airstrike during the siege of Homs, and again on August 18, 2013 it was clearly damaged but still unknown. how far the destruction has gone. The Syrian army recaptured al-Hosn castle and village from rebel forces on March 20, 2014. Since then, both UNESCO and the Syrian government have produced regular reports on the state of the site, calling for reconstruction measures and conservation.



Writing in the early 20th century, T. E. Lawrence, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, noted that Knights Crac was "perhaps the best preserved and most admirable castle in the world," [a castle that] forms a suitable commentary in any account. on the Crusader buildings of Syria. Castles in Europe provided stately accommodation for their owners and were administrative centers; In the Levant the need for defense prevailed above all and was reflected in the design of castles. Kennedy suggests that "The castle scientifically designed as a proper machine surely reached its apogee in great buildings like the Margat and the Crac des Chevaliers."

The Crac de los Caballeros can be classified as both a spur castle due to the terrain on which it is located, and after the expansion of the 13th century a fully developed concentric castle. It was of a similar size and shape to Jacob's Ford, a Crusader castle built in the late 1170s. Margat has also been cited as a twin castle to Crac de los Caballeros. The main construction material was limestone; The ashlar coating is so thin that the mortar is barely noticeable. Outside the castle entrance there was a "walled suburb" known as a burgus, of which no remains remain. To the south of the external enclosure there was a triangular outer work and the crusaders may have intended to build walls and towers around it. It is not known how it was defended at the time of the siege of 1271, although it has been suggested that it was surrounded by a wooden palisade. To the south of the castle the spur on which it stands is connected to the neighboring hill, so that the Siege engines could approach ground level. The internal defenses are strongest at this point, with a cluster of towers connected by thick walls.


Outdoor enclosure

The second phase of construction undertaken by the Hospitallers began at the beginning of the 13th century and lasted for decades. The outer walls were built in the largest construction carried out in the place, giving Crac de los Caballeros its current appearance. With a height of 9 meters, the outer enclosure has towers that protrude markedly from the wall. It is 3 m wide with seven towers 8-10 m wide. Create a concentric fortress. While the towers of the inner enclosure have a square plan and did not protrude from the wall, the towers of the 13th century were round. This design was new and even contemporary Templar castles did not have rounded towers. The technique was developed at Château Gaillard in France by Richard the Lionheart between 1196 and 1198. The extension towards the southeast is of lesser quality than the rest of the circuit and was built on an unknown date. Probably around 1250 a back door was added to the north wall.

Loopholes in the walls and towers are distributed to minimize the amount of dead ground around the castle. They crowned the walls with machicolations, offering defenders a way to hurl projectiles at enemies at the foot of the wall. They were so tight that the archers would have to hunch over inside them. The boxed machicolations were unusual: those at Crac de los Caballeros were more complex than those at Saône or Margat and there are no similar features among the Crusader castles. However, they had similarities with Muslim works, such as the contemporary defenses at the Citadel of Aleppo. It is not clear which side imitated the other, as the date on which they were added to the Crac de los Caballeros is unknown, but it provides evidence of the diffusion of military ideas between Christian and Muslim armies. These defenses were reached by a circular path. In the opinion of historian Hugh Kennedy the defenses of the outer walls were "the most elaborate and developed anywhere in the Latin Levant... the whole structure is brilliantly designed and a superbly built fighting machine."

The steep slopes of the spur were used for tactical purposes. Although the cliff on which it was located provided an ideal location, a fortification located at this point had two weak points: the main gate and the southern flank, open to the plain. To protect this exposed side, a masonry wall with three large towers was built, preceded by an enormous masonry parapet that in some areas measured 25 meters thick.

When the outer walls were built in the 13th century the main entrance was improved. A vaulted corridor led uphill from the outer gate on the northeast. The problem of the entrance was solved by having access to it built in a zigzag pattern up the steep slope, so that a potential invader would expose himself during his assault to the fire. of the adversaries. Thus it was made an example of a curved entrance. This type of entrance was a Byzantine innovation, but the Crac de los Caballeros was a particularly complex example. It extended for 137 metres, and along its entire length there were "murder holes" that allowed the defenders to bathe the soldiers. attackers into projectiles. Anyone who went straight ahead rather than following the hairpin turn would emerge in the area between the two circuits of castle walls. To access the inner area, the passage had to be followed.

Between the outer and inner doors, a narrow corridor between colossal walls and defenses. The possibility of surrendering the fortress by siege was also useless. The fortress had a 120-meter-long warehouse and additional warehouses dug into the cliff below the fortress, where enough water and food were stored to sustain a garrison of 2,000 men for a long time. It is estimated that it could have withstood a five-year siege.


Indoor enclosure

Between 1142 and 1170 the Knights Hospitaller carried out a building program at the site. The castle was defended by a curtain studded with square towers that project slightly. The main entrance was between the two towers on the eastern side, and there was a postern in the northwest tower. In the center was a courtyard surrounded by vaulted chambers. The layout of the land determined the irregular shape of the castle. A site with natural defenses was a typical location for Crusader castles, and sloping slopes provided the Crac de los Caballeros with defenses on all sides except one, where the castle's defenses were concentrated. This construction phase was incorporated into the later construction of the castle.

When the Crac de los Caballeros was remodeled in the 13th century, new walls were built surrounding the inner courtyard. The previous walls remained, with a narrow gap between them in the west and south that was converted into a gallery from which the defenders could fire projectiles. In this area, the walls were supported by sloping glacis that provided additional protection against both siege weapons and earthquakes. Four large round towers project vertically from the glacis; They were used as a place of residence for the knights of the garrison, around 60 at their peak. The southwest tower was designed to house the quarters of the grand master of the Knights Hospitaller. Although the defenses that in the past topped the walls of the inner courtyards are no longer preserved in most places, it seems that they did not extend throughout the entire circuit. The machicolations on the southern face are absent. The area between the inner enclosure and the outer walls was narrow and was not used for habitation. In the east, where the defenses were weaker, there was an open cistern filled by an aqueduct. It acted as both a moat and water supply for the castle.

At the northern end of the small patio there is a chapel and at the southern end an esplanade. The esplanade is raised above the rest of the patio; the vaulted area below would have provided storage and may have acted as stables and shell shelter. Aligning the west of the courtyard is the knights' hall. Although probably first built in the 12th century, the interior dates back to the 13th century. The tracery and delicate decoration is a sophisticated example of Gothic architecture, probably dating from the 1230s.



The present chapel was probably built to replace the one destroyed by an earthquake in 1170. Only the eastern end of the original chapel, which housed the apse, and a small part of the south wall survive of the original chapel. The chapel Later it had a barrel vault and an uncomplicated apse; Its design would have been considered old-fashioned by contemporary standards in France, but it has similarities to the one built around 1186 at Margat. It was divided into three approximately equal compartments. A cornice runs through the chapel at the point where the vault ends and the wall begins. Oriented approximately east to west, it was 21.5 meters long and 8.5 meters wide with the main entrance from the west or a second smaller one on the north wall. When the castle was renovated at the beginning of the 12th century, the entrance was moved to the south wall. The chapel was lighted by windows above the cornice, one at the west end, one on each side of the east recess, and one on the south side of the central recess, and the apse at the east end had a large window. In 1935 a second chapel was discovered outside the main entrance to the castle, however it no longer exists.



Despite its predominantly military character, the fortress is one of the few places where Crusader art has been preserved, in the form of frescoes. Edward I of England, during the Ninth Crusade in 1272, saw the fortress and used it as an example of his own castles in England and Wales. According to T.E. Lawrence, the Crac de los Caballeros is "the most admirable castle in the world."

In 1935, 1955, and 1978 medieval frescoes were discovered inside the Crac de los Caballeros after deteriorating plaster and subsequent whitewashing. The frescoes were painted inside and outside the main chapel and the chapel outside the main entrance, which no longer exists. Writing in 1982, historian Jaroslav Folda noted that at the time there had been little research into cross frescoes that would provide a comparison with the fragmentary remains at the Crac de los Caballeros. Those in the chapel were painted on the masonry of the reconstruction of 1170–1202. Mold, smoke and humidity have made it difficult to preserve the frescoes. The fragmentary nature of the red and blue frescoes within the chapel means that they are difficult to value. The one outside the chapel represented the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.