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Ghosts of the castle Krak des Chevaliers

October 1 2005

Tough climb to the castle did not become easier over the past 800 years. Out of breath, go up to the fortress gate. Many centuries ago, people were not too lazy to drag to the top of Jebel Ansari blocks of stone weighing hundreds of kilograms each, in order to lay them out one of the most impressive castles in the world. This is the famous Krak des Chevaliers. Trying to perpetuate its presence in the Holy Land, the crusaders erected halfway between Homs and the Mediterranean coast of the greatest fortress of the Middle Ages. But even that did not help.

Just the fact that the bypass bristling battlements walls have to spend not less than a day. Judging from the directory, stronghold just immense - more than three hectares. Together with the attendants of the inhabitants of the castle at times reached two thousand. The whole city! About the same, to storm the building leaving behind a cloud, you could not think. Overawed even the invincible Saladin. He stared in amazement for a long time impenetrable wall and retired in disgrace.

Money, however, take any of the fortress. Heading to the booth cashier. Dark tunnel with a mossy roof, light enters here only through a few "windows" in the ceiling. I climbed the wide staircase. A huge room with racks for horses tethered. It is stable. Yes, if the theater begins with a hanger, then this knight's castle - with a horse paddock.

The entire territory of the citadel is protected from enemy arrows and stone shell nuclei in the form of vaulted ceilings and a covered walkway. Therefore, the journey reminiscent of cruising the endless maze. The abundance of hidden rooms, narrow passages and spacious galleries. The internal layout, as well as irresistible exterior walls are subject to a single concept - the protection of the fortress. If the enemy somehow miraculously got inside, it is necessary to obstruct his movement, to confuse, to drive into a trap and kill it.

Climb to the ramparts. From the work done in her column to the castle battlements approaches clearly visible. From this breathtaking picture. How the eye, around the stretch wooded mountains, terrace fields. It can be seen in the distance on a green meadow peacefully grazing sheep. A gust of wind brings fresh sea air - to the sea within reach, miles and fifty, not more. In the control over this strategically important mountain pass between Homs and the Mediterranean Sea and was just the problem of the defenders. In addition, the boss in the castle of the Knights loannites (Hospitallers) were to send the horse patrols to protect the pilgrims marched in from Europe to the Holy Land. Ferocious Saracens and different dashing folk here have always been in excess. The matter seemed good. However, why did the Middle Eastern Christians were only happy when hordes of "liberators" came back to Europe?

The first burdened by "friendship" with the West began the Byzantine emperors. First, they insisted that the monarchs of Europe to send aid to fight the Muslims. But very soon the situation changed. The first who congratulated Saladin's expulsion from the Crusaders from Jerusalem, was the Emperor ... the Romans. It came to that local Christians voluntarily opened the gates of the armies of the Moslems - as "Franks" all disappointed!

With the victory the Crusaders position of local Syrian Christians are not improved. Latins perceive their eastern co-religionists as "substandard." There could even be a question of admitting them into the ruling class. "Frank saw in the Orthodox and the Jacobites (Monophysites) only subjects payers of tribute. In this war caused all the new fees, which lay entirely on the shoulders of the local population. Indiscriminately, whether you're a Mohammedan or a follower of Christ.When it comes to armed clashes, then shut up in their castles, knights were not able to protect the land and civilians from the fire and the sword of the Saracens. The culmination of discontent with the new regime has reached, when the Syrians came to the ears of the news of the capture of "Franks", including the Hospitallers, the Egyptian city Bilbasov. Mastering them after a three-day siege, they committed the brutal massacre not only the Muslims but also Coptic Christians. Losing support among local residents, the Crusaders could not count on the fact that they can stay here too long.

We continue the journey to the Krak des Chevaliers. For the first time the castle on the slope of Jebel Ansari Crusaders captured in 1099 after killing a small Kurdish garrison. They did it in passing on the way to the main purpose of the First Crusade - Jerusalem. In 1142 Tripolitansky Count Raymond I gave Hospitaller fortress. They immediately realized the enormous significance of the gift. And barely hoisted over the fortress his red flag with a white web-footed cross, began to equip it. Built of the seven foot two rows of limestone walls, impregnable tower, but the main thing - the courage and iron discipline allowed them to within a half centuries to repel the attack of superior forces of the Muslims.

Thanks to the skilful restoration now can obtain a fairly vivid picture of the lifestyle and habits of the inhabitants of Krak des Chevaliers. Interesting chapel in Gothic style. Here, before the battle knights prayed to God to grant them victory over basurmanami. Temple walls were decorated with banners and the spoils of war and weapons of their dead and even harness their horses.

Capturing the Krak des Chevaliers, Mameluke Sultan Baybars turned the chapel into a mosque. This is evidenced by the mihrab - a niche in the eastern wall, pointing to Mecca and the stone stairs to the throne (pulpit). Clambered up the ladder, the imam read from the little house with a dome on four-poster his sermons. However, if you look closely, then under the arches of the ceiling can be distinguished stone cross: Muslims pray to Allah in the shadow of the main character hated them knights. May not have noticed, or just not have reached to destroy.

The history of the castle is inseparably connected with the monastic knightly Order of the Hospitallers, or loannites. Because of its small size, the Crusaders were unable to cover all the borders of Christian states in the East. They stretched from Antioch in the north to Sinai in the south. Therefore, possession connected by a chain of more than thirty impregnable fortress. Krak des Chevaliers was the largest of them.

Architecture Features Order castle was allowed to few in the garrison for a long time to withstand the onslaught of overwhelming enemy forces. But one of courage and combat training for this was not enough. Demanded more food and drink. The spacious pantry, coupled with a covered gallery hall, kept vast reserves of grain, wine, fodder for horses. At the Knights were numerous herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Descendants of these glorious animals still graze the grass near the fortress walls.

Provisions loannites cherished as the apple of an eye, so put it in the most secure part of your castle - southern redoubt. His height was covered with bunches of green bushes walls reaches thirty meters. In the great hall were also a bakery, a mill and creamery. In the fortress paved the aqueduct through which constantly came drinking water, enough for two thousandth garrison. Inside the dining room, for secure, warrior monks deep in the rock dug another well. Now he zareshechen for the safety of tourists. Judging by how long the drops fall into a stone thrown by a pebble to the bottom - not a dozen feet. Few defenders could always eat and quench your thirst after a heated battle with the Saracens.

p align = "justify"> «Castle of the Knights, whose name sounds bizarre mixture of French and Arabic as" Krak des Chevaliers, was captured by the Saracens just a hoax. It happened shortly before the fall of the last stronghold of the crusaders in the Middle East - Mediterranean fortress of Acre. It was like this. In the spring of 1271 Mameluke Sultan Baybars already reclaimed from outsiders, Europeans all their possessions in the Holy Land, close to an impregnable fortress. The castle was defended only by a handful of knights, monks. Stormed the Egyptian commander, decided with the least protected, the eastern part of the fortifications. Incurring considerable losses, the attackers made a tunnel and broke through the walls of the fortress. But this does not mean victory. The fact is that inside the Crusaders guessed erect another stronghold. There's something they fled, retreating through the backdoor. In this southern redoubt were large stocks of provisions. The siege had promised to take a long time. Then the sultan set off a trick.

On further developments, there are two versions. The first is that the Saracens produced a letter allegedly sent by the Grand Master of the Order of Hugues de Revel, with orders to surrender the fortress. It was delivered to the garrison, and the defenders had no choice, as meekly obey the will of the supreme commander. Another story says that the Arabs, disguised as a Christian priest, came to the walls of the castle with pleas for protection. And when trusting Hospitallers opened the gates, they snatched from under cassocks saber. Krak was taken. To honor the conquerors, all the surviving knights was given life.

Reconquered "castle on the hill", the Saracens quickly lost all interest in her. After the Mongol invasion the castle was in decline, and during the Ottoman rule it was ever abandoned.

Trying to install over the former provinces of the Roman Empire, the Latin cross in place of an Islamic crescent has failed. However, the era of the Crusades was a turning point in the history of Christianity in the Middle East. Composing in the XI century almost half the population of Syria and Palestine, the Christians have already 200 years later turned into a closed confessional groups, interspersed with islands in the vast Islamic sea.

One of these "islands" is located just near the Krak des Chevaliers. In the Wadi en Nadar (Valley Christian) densely populated by tens of thousands of followers of Jesus Christ, the predominantly Orthodox.

While our bus winds on mountain serpentine, I managed to talk with local residents. Man in his forties, in a blue shirt and linen trousers, holding a plastic bag with a bunch of ripe bananas. The stranger turned out to be an inhabitant of the village Marmarita that five kilometers north of the famous fortress of the Hospitallers. He was returning home from the Agricultural Bank, where he works as a clerk.

The first thing I asked was a native: I am an Orthodox, or Latino? Just got the "correct" answer to your question, he graciously answered me, that sounded like "Oh no bananas if they are given the salary in the bank?" Turned out - no. The Government attaches great importance to agricultural development, including through the provision of loans to peasants. Wage workers Agrobank, he said, "normal". In parting, the banker warmly shook my hand, and persistently invited them to visit the Orthodox monastery of St.. George.

The habit of greeting with foreigners only after ascertaining their religious affiliation to develop at local residents only in recent years. This is due to insistence of Western missionaries to convert to their faith Orthodox flock of green valleys. It is home to more than 70,000 Christians, mostly, as already noted, the Orthodox. As a consequence, the surrounding countryside and the castle was named "Valley of the Christians."

oschny center of Orthodoxy came here long before the arrival of the Crusaders, not to mention the modern Western preachers. Reason majestic citadel in honor of St. George is assigned the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (VI century). Composed of the dusty walls of limestone blocks reliably protect slender basilica under a tiled roof. Bell spread far over the mountains, heralding the start of the service. Residents Marmarity singly and in many families flock to the ancient gates of the monastery. The mood at all happy, hear children's laughter.

Just think, until quite recently, there prevailed a complete desolation. The ancient monastery for almost two hundred years lay in ruins. Orthodox Parish Marmarita village, which is about a thousand people, was in total shambles. There was not even the parish priest. Only three Catholic schools. But all that changed when in 1995 the Archbishop of Valley Christian was appointed John Yazigi. An employee of the Agricultural Bank, incidentally, was his cousin.

His tireless energy archpastor directed primarily at the restoration of the monastery. And this calculation is fully justified. Today the monastery is not only nourishes Marmaritu, but four dozen other nearby villages. Organized brethren in the villages of the Bible courses over the past few years completed, no more nor less than 7,000 people. For many courses have become the main source of education or just basic literacy. When the monastery a youth camp. Every summer it is visited by dozens of children.

Monastery of St.. George - real spiritual heart of the Patriarchate of Antioch. His powerful heartbeat heard not only in a green valley, but all over Syria. This is especially important that against the Orthodox of Syria for nearly a thousand years does not stop "Crusader" expansion of the West.

The first Catholic missionaries set foot on Syrian soil to the ringing of swords of the Crusaders. All nelatinyane were for them "schismatics," that is subject to appeal to the "true faith". In the most difficult position there was an ancient Jacobite church. She was even denied access to the Holy Sepulchre. Persecution followed by vigorous efforts of Rome to subdue the Syrian Christians. For the first time it was in 1237. This submission, however, explained only by fear of the Tatar invasion, so it was not long. But then, starting from the XIV century, the struggle with the Catholic Church Jacobite influence was just desperate. Weak financially driven and detached from the Universal Mother Church Jacobites had neither the strength nor the means to repel the onslaught of an active Roman Catholic propaganda.

The number of Jacobite Syrian Church has steadily decreased. Its followers were scattered in villages and mountain villages. Nowadays, the situation continues to deteriorate. If at the beginning of last century, the total number of Syro-Jacobites was determined in 150 000 people, now it is for Christianity in Syria has no more than 80,000 believers. Most recently ceased to exist Aleppo, Hamiyskaya, Chomsky diocese Jacobites. The reason is that most of the congregation was no longer a Catholic union.

Is now the head of the Jacobites Ignatius Ephrem - "Patriarch of Antioch and the entire region of the Apostolic Chair." His residence is in Damascus. The whole history of Jacobites illustrates the disastrous results of the department of Universal Orthodoxy. And, perhaps, only to return to the bosom of Mother Church can inject into the ancient branch of Orthodoxy vitality necessary for spiritual growth and prosperity.

However, the Roman Catholic proselytism in Syria is not confined to the Monophysites. Syrian Orthodox are no less strong pressure from the outside.The most active confrontation with Rome began in the era of the Counter-Reformation, when the papacy sought to compensate for the loss of positions in Europe to expand its influence in the East. In the XVII century in several Syrian cities have started to operate in Latin mission. They unfurled a tireless activity in coastal areas, whose population has long been associated with European trade and lived side by side with large colonies of Italian and French merchants.

Problem aggravated by the fact that the Patriarch of Antioch was weak economically, and therefore are increasingly forced to turn to the West for help. In 1631 Patriarch Ignatius III even formally recognized the primacy of the Roman throne. If it were not for resistance to the Ottomans, who have long regarded the Catholic missionaries as dangerous internal enemies, it is unknown how it would all end.

The decline of Ottoman power and the growth of European influence in the Middle East led to significant successes of the Uniate propaganda among the Orthodox Arabs. In 1724, after the death of Patriarch Athanasius III, prolatinski minded bishops elected to the throne of Antioch, who studied at Rome's nephew Metropolitan Euphemia - Seraphim Thanos. He was elevated to the Patriarchal throne under the name Cyril VI and immediately recognized the primacy of the pope. True, at the same time the Synod of Constantinople ordained Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, a Greek Cypriot Sylvester. With the support of the Sultan, Sylvester made by Kirill flee to the mountains of Lebanon.

The whole eighteenth century did not stop violent clashes Orthodox and Uniate. The standoff has split almost all of the community. Western missionaries, holding significant financial resources, have opened hundreds of churches, hospitals, schools. So a Uniate church Melhitskaya Syria

At the same time, the position of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch was literally disastrous. Reduce the number of Orthodox churches, many of them had no icons, no utensils, no prayer books. All this forced Antiochian Patriarch Methodius (1823-1850 gg.) Seek the support of the Russian Orthodox Church. So in the history of the Syrian Orthodox opened a new chapter.

The Russian empire has become a reliable ally of the Syrian Orthodox. In 1842 our country for the collection of alms for the service of educational institutions and the construction of temples was sent to Metropolitan Geliopolsky and Gore Lebanese neophyte. Call for help found a warm response in the hearts of Russians. In addition to donations from wealthy Antioch was given to the Moscow monastery church of the Assumption, which is Ilyinke.

The initial purpose of the establishment of Antioch monastery was the acquisition of materiel and church plate - temples and monasteries of the Patriarchate of Antioch came into extreme poverty. It was also established by the Russian charity. His mission was to create a Russian-language schools. Many of the bishops of the Church of Antioch in Syria, Arabia, Palestine received religious education in our country. They learned in theological academies of Moscow, Kiev, St. Petersburg and Kazan. Very active here Imperial Palestinian society. In one of the Orthodox churches Homs, they showed me a great sharp iconostasis - a gift to the Palestinian society.

After the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and started the persecution of the Orthodox relations between the two sister Churches for a time were suspended. But immediately after his victory in the Great Patriotic War Antioch courtyard, closed in 1929, resumed its activities in Moscow churches of Archangel Gabriel and martyr Theodore Stratelates. There it exists today. Communication between the Moscow Patriarchate of Antioch and continue to strengthen.Most recently, in January 2003, a visit to Moscow by His Beatitude the Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius IV, when he was awarded the Prize of the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples "For outstanding work in strengthening the unity of Orthodox peoples".

Krak des Chevaliers - Moscow

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