Krak des Chevaliers sits strategically on the south side of Homs Gap, the valley leading from the Mediterranean to Homs. Since time immemorial, traders and invaders have used Homs Gap as a route to the Syrian interior. The Krak was home of the Knights Hospitallers from the 1140ies until the capture by Mamluk forces in 1271. In its time it must have been a formidable stronghold.
The Krak is, or at least was until the Syrian war, one of the best preserved medeival fortifications in the world.
Had this castle been in Western Europe, there would have been a whole tourist industry built up around it, complete with festivals, re-enactments, lots of tourist kitsch, fast food joints and queues everywhere. When I visited in 2003, there was – practically nothing. A few guys from a nearby village lurked around the park lot and posed as guides. We hired one of course, and as it were, he was pretty good. As I recall, there were 2 other small groups visiting at the same time I and my buddy were there.