Glimpses of Israel - Crusader Castles

by Joseph H Hunting

Of the innumerable invaders of the Holy Land since time immemorial none have left more tangible evidence of their occupation than the Crusaders. They came as an army of mercenaries recruited from so-called Christian Europe to free the holy sites of Christendom in Jerusalem from desecration by so-called infidels.

Theirs was an army of occupation that spanned nearly two centuries. Following the tradition of their European forbears they built massive castles on strategically placed high ground to maintain freedom of movement.

Among those that I have visited, Nimrod in northern Galilee and Belvoir in lower Galilee are the best preserved. Considering that they didn't have modern earth-moving equipment nor heavy-duty cranes to lift the massive blocks of masonry weighing several tonnes into position, their building techniques were extraordinary.

Apart from the crumbling remains of Crusader castles that dot Israel from Montfort in the extreme north to the Coral Island in the Gulf of Eilat there are other well-preserved evidences of Crusader occupation in Israel. One of the best is the underground hospice in Acre. Their architecture is also evident in the fortress they constructed at Caesarea and one can get glimpses of their handiwork in Jerusalem as in the Room of the Last Supper on traditional Mount Zion.