Biblical Archaeology Review 32:1, January/February 2006

The Rugged Beauty of Crusader Castles

Holy Wars in a Holy Land

By Adrian Boas

Nothing is more evocative of the Crusader period in the East than the often-imposing castles built by the Crusaders in what is today modern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus.

Well over a hundred castles were constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, ranging from simple isolated towers to huge, complex fortresses with elaborate concentric defenses. The Crusaders were innovative and bold in their designs, borrowing freely from Western, Byzantine and Muslim military architecture. The great Hospitaller castle of Crac des Chevaliers and the Templar castle of Safed, to name only two, reached new heights in castle design.

Castles were of course not the only Crusader buildings. In both cities and rural settlements, many fine examples of churches, covered market streets, manor houses, private dwellings and farm installations have survived. Here, however, we will look primarily at the castles.

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