WATCHING OVER A SYRIAN JEWEL

In Western Syria, on a strategic site of the foothills of Jabal Ansariya, a colossal fortress rises. At the crossroads of Homs, Tartous, Antioch and Beirut, six hundred metres above the Christian Valley. Here, on the foundations of a strong ottoman, was built the famous “Krak des Chevaliers” in 1140.

 

Unfortunately, this historical and cultural symbol of a whole country is falling slowly. The Fortress, deemed impregnable, suffered a great deal from the passage of time and particularly during its occupation by the al-Nusra terrorist group. Whole parts of the city wall, marked by the stigmata of a war which has lasted for more than seven years, threaten to collapse.

 

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the groups of tourists who came before the see these majestic walls, have now deserted the valley. Listed by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage site, this exceptional site suffers from a lack of resources.

Quentin, head of the SOS mission in Homs

As we visit the “Krak des Chevaliers”, the director of the fortress asked the association to invest in the maintenance of the castle and to provide a regular presence in order to undertake the complete weeding of the main access points of the fortress and also to clean the rooms which were used during the occupation of al-Nusra.

We obtained all the necessary authorizations and began weeding the entire west moat. The association as hopes to finance the maintenance of the walls by using specialized workers who live in the Christian Valley below the fortress and thus participate in giving a boost to the local economy.



Today, in the maze of stones covered with vegetation, only lonely archaeologists, passionate about the secrets of its walls and the volunteers of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient can be found in the “Krak des Chevaliers” and we are also the only visitors allowed use the round path under the Marian Statue that faces the Krack from across the valley. Inside these walls volunteers admire the cloister, the capitular hall and marvel at the amazing acoustics of the small gothic chapel.

Until the funds necessary for its renovation can be collected, the fortress needs maintenance to compensate for its degradation, especially to help with the displacement of the stones which are prone to collapsing and large-scale weeding. Today, volunteers from the various branches of the Syrian mission go every two weeks in the Christian Valley to carry out works at the Krak. By maintaining the castle and ensuring a regular presence, they are investing in the preservation of a treasure of Christian Syrian heritage and an essential place of renown in the country.

Let's hope that one day, these awesome fortress can again receive visitors from all over the world.

HELP US HERE TO HELP THEM OVER THERE

BECOME VOLUNTEER !

Volunteering is a commitment for a defined period. The volunteer is committed to a mission to serve others. To volunteer at SOS Chrétiens d’Orient you must:

- be older than 18 years old

- stay for a minimum for 1 month

- being in good physical shape

- have parental agreement for a possible departure

"I ask you to be revolutionary. Have the courage to go to counter-current. And also have the courage to be happy!" Pope Francis, July 28, speech to the volunteers of the WYD, Rio de Janeiro.

"I ask you to be revolutionaries. Have the courage to go against the grain. And have the courage to be happy!"

Pope Francis,

July 28, speech to WYD volunteers, Rio de Janeiro.