Crac des Chevaliers
The build: Crac des Chevaliers was built by an elite order of Christian warrior monks in the 12th and 13th centuries. Called the Knights Hospitaller, these men designed the castle to dominate a key pass in what is now Syria and guard against Muslim attacks during the Crusades. Strategically positioned on a mountain spur, its steeply-sloped walls, hidden moat and deadly ramp entrance make it the crown jewel of Crusader castles.
The siege: This castle was besieged by Baybars, a Mamluk Sultan who rose from slavery to usurp a king. Armed with siege engines like the counterweight trebuchet, Baybars campaigned against the Christians in the latter part of the 13th century, determined to push them out of the Holy Land forever. In 1271, he came up against Crac des Chevaliers, challenging the castle – and its defenders – to a battle that would shift the balance of power in the Middle East.