Friday, April 18, 2008

Chastel Blanc

Safita tower second floor

Chastel Blanc

Chastel Blanc (called by natives, 'Burj Safita' which means Safita Tower) was built by the Knights Templar during the Crusades upon prior fortifications. Constructed on the middle hill of Safita's three hills, it offers a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, and was a major part of the network of Crusader fortifications in the area. From the roof, one can see from the Mediterranean Sea to the snow-covered mountains of Lebanon, and Tripoli. From Chastel Blanc it would have been possible to see the Templar strongholds at Tartus and Ruad Island to the northwest, Chastel Rouge on the coastline to the southwest, Akkar to the south, and Krak des Chevaliers (the headquarters of the Syrian Knights Hospitallers) to the southeast. The tower is the remaining keep of the original castle. It has a height of 28 meters, a width of 18 meters, and a length of 31 meters. A large bell is on the western wall, and its sound can be heard up to 5 kilometers from Safita. The castle had to be restored in 1170 and 1202 following damages due to earthquakes. The keep in its current shape probably dates from the reconstruction after 1202.

Considering the time of its construction during the Crusades, the tower served two purposes, as both a chapel and a fortress, with 3 meter-thick walls constructed of massive and carefully-fitted limestone blocks. The ground floor still contains a chapel, dedicated to St. Michael and used by the Greek Orthodox community of Safita. The second floor, which can be reached by a flight of partially destroyed stairs, served as a dormitory, and contains many small angled windows that were used by archers to defend the tower. Cut into the rock below the tower is a water cistern, an essential element in case of siege.

From the other fortifications of the castle, only a portal at 45 meters to the East of the keep can still be seen today. During French colonialism, efforts were made to restore the tower, causing great discomfort to the villagers that lived very close to it.

Wikipedia info.

The church in the tower The church of the tower The stairs inside the tower The second floor of the tower The second floor of the tower The bell of the second floor of Safita tower Safita tower, the top The second floor of the tower of Safita Inside the tower. First floor. The church At tower of Safita, students trip At tower of Safita, students trip

Going to the second floor, inside the tower


Safita (Arabic: صا فيتا‎, transliteration: Ṣāfītā) is a city in north-western Syria, located to the southeast of Tartous and to the northwest of Krak des Chevaliers. The city has a population of 33,000. It is located on the tops of 3 hills and the valleys in between them, in the coastal mountain ranges of Syria. It was important during the crusades, and was inhabited by the Knights Templar of the castle Chastel Blanc while part of the County of Tripoli. Wikipedia info.

Safita-Tartous road Safita town Safita town Old streets way to the tower Old streets, new things Everybit on roof of a home Looking to north from the tower Safita general view Safita tower, the top Safita tower square from above Looking down to the street surrounding the tower Looking down to the street surrounding the tower Safita. The other hill Looking down to the street surrounding the tower Looking down to the street surrounding the tower View from top of the tower Safita. General view Old buildings of Safita

At tower of Safita, students trip At tower of Safita, students trip Old homes Flowers on terraces Narrow streets
Safita. Old streets Way going to the tower Safita town

Old streets in Safita

Tartous city marine scenes

Tartous viewed from sea

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