Built to be mighty bastions of power, Crusader castles can be found throughout Western Europe and the Middle East. Often occupied by formidable Christian military orders, these Crusader strongholds were meant to solidify the power of the Crusader states and act as military and administrative centres where these orders could consolidate their rule.
Yet, despite their often grand scale and robust defences, the onslaught of Muslim armies in the Middle East and internal conflict and rivalry with Western rulers often led to the loss of power of these orders and the destruction or capture of their fortresses.
Today surviving Crusader castles are some of the most fascinating historic places to explore and provide a glimpse into the world of those who built, occupied and fought in these powerful fortifications. If you’re keen on visiting these sites, our list of Crusader castles below can get you on your way – click on each individual castle for more information. You can also view a wider list of Crusader sites, including churches and museums.
Perhaps the best preserved Crusader castle in existence, the vast fortress of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria was the famous Knights Hospitallier during the 12th and 13th centuries until its capture by the Mameluke Sultan Baibars in 1271.
One of the most famous and impressive Crusader castles, the Grandmasters Palace in Rhodes was the base of the Knights Hospitaller of St John. Today it is open to the public as a museum.
One of the principle cities of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusales, many of the key Crusader fortifications can still be seen in the modern city, including the Knights’ Halls and the Templar tunnels.
Bodrum Castle was once a Crusader fortress built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1402 to to offer protection from the invading Seljuk Turks. Today it also includes the impressive Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
One of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, Byblos in Lebanon contains the ruins of a 12th century Crusader castle which is still an impressive site to explore today.
More famous for its Roman ruins, Caesarea in Israel was later a stronghold of Crusader forces and today visitors to the site can explore the impressive Crusader castle found at here.
One of many more isolated places on our list of Crusader castles, the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din is a is a partly-preserved Crusader fortress in Syria, which was captured by Saladin in 1188.
Though now mostly of more modern construction, Fort Saint Jean was built on the site of an earlier Crusader castle built by the Knights Hospitallers, elements of which can still be explored.
The Grandmasters Palace in Valletta has been the seat of power in Malta since the 16th century and was the headquarters of the powerful Knights Hospitallers.
An impressive 12th century Crusader castle in Jordan, the remains of the fortification of Kerak are an awesome and slightly forbidding sight even today.
Among the more obscure Crusader castles, Kolossi Castle in Cyprus was a fortification of the Knights Hospitallers built in the early thirteenth century.
Not normally thought of as a Crusader castle, Malbork Castle was actually the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights, one of the most important a crusading military orders.
Not necessarily known for its Crusades sites, Petra was in fact a Crusader stronghold for a number of years and contains the remains of two Crusader castles.
Conquered by Crusaders fighting alongside Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, St George’s Castle in Lisbon went on to serve as a royal palace throughout the middle ages.