Friday 28 and Saturday 29 January 2011

From Amman to Hama in Syria. Some serious sight seeing on Saturday

-the first stop was positively the best ruined castle I have ever seen ever, Qualat Al Sheyzar, which was originally founded by a regiment at Thessalonian cavalry from Alexander the Great’s forces and was used mainly as a stronghold of Arab resistance against the Crusaders

– then off to Apamea, a roman ruin originally founded in the 3rd century AD by Seleacus 1, a former general in the army of Alexander the Great (I guess that doesn’t exactly make it Roman though! obviously the Roman ruins came later) then visited a cool little mosaics museum

– then off to Misyaf, the former home of my favourite cult, the Assassins. A castle on the site was seized by the Crusaders in 1103 ad. By 1140ad it had passed into the hands of the Assassins. They gained quite a reputation by frightening the hell out of people by leaving a dagger and a note on someone’s pillow (‘this is just a nice friendly warning. We could have killed you, but we didn’t’) or by simply killing them. According to Marco Polo, the cult members were controlled by drugging them with hashish and promising them an afterlife in paradise. Hence, the derivation of the word ‘assassin’ – ‘hashish’. They had a go at Saladin, and DID manage to finish off Raymond 11 of Tripoli and Conrad de Montferrai, King of Jerusalem. Needless to stay I was pretty stoked when I found out that their castle was included in the itinerary.

-then off to Krak de Chevaliers, an absolutely enormous castle which originally existed as a fortress in 1031, before being expanded by the Knights Hospitallers into a residence and hospital in the middle of the 12th century. In fact, people were still living in it right up to 1934 (when the French cleaned them out). No wonder – the place looks bloody indestructable.

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~ by margoforte12 on January 31, 2011.

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