International Castle Society ( ICS ) presents :

Exhibition Castles and Bazars in Crusader Times


This exhibition, Castles and Bazars in Crusader Times, gives equal consideration to Christian and Muslim castles alike and also provides entertainment and information suitable for school groups and families. All display texts are given in two languages.

In the Levant wide-ranging trade was made possible in the bazars situated inside the strongly fortified cities. The Crusaders took their inspiration from the types of castle construction already in existence or in the process of developing in the Middle East and step by step used their newly acquired knowhow for castle building undertaken in the west. New developments in constructing access to and defence of gate towers, improved protection of walls inside castles as well as outside, safer water supply, all these novelties were taken over and adapted to local conditions.

The Krak des Chevaliers is the centre-piece and eye-catcher. It stands on a 6 x 6 m base, built at 1:25 of the original, and has some 2,000 handcrafted figurines. The model shows the castle at the time it was besieged and finally taken by Mamluk sultan Baibars in 1271. The exact moment is the last phase in the siege, after the outer walls have been mined and the attackers with their siege engines and ladders have almost reached the central castle. Inside the central castle civilian and military everyday life is shown in cross sections, taking in the 2,000 people dormitory, the central court, the knights’ hall as well as the kitchens. Members of the Order of St. John and their allies are shown trying to repel the attackers in order to save the castle, protect themselves together with the peasants that have sought refuge inside the castle along with their cattle and animals, as well as many pilgrims. When however the defenders realised any further resistance was of no use surrendering the castle and free passage for the defenders were prepared.

Two glass cases of 1.20 x 0.60 m each illustrate the process of building and the functionsof an Arab counterweight blide such as Sultan Baibars might have used.

The 1:25 model of the “Aleppo Bazar has, on a base of 4 x 4 m, some 750 handcrafted figurines that along with thousands of everyday items depict market scenes and life in the Middle East of the late Middle Ages. Aleppo was an important crossroads serving as a link between the Muslim and the Christian worlds. Even today Aleppo bazar is the city’s economic heart. The market is alive with textiles, spices, luxury goods but there are everyday items too, and currencies are exchanged. Modernity and tradition get on well with each other here.

A section measuring 80 x 80 m has been chosen for presentation in this exhibit, covering the area close to the Friday Mosque and the Citadel Hill which includes a large caravanserai and Hammam Nahassine, a typical Oriental baths complex.

A third exhibit is a 6 x 6 m model with some 350 handcrafted figurines showing a section of Acco harbour as it was in the 13th century. Two reconstructed Crusader ships belonging to the fleet of King Saint Louis and Charles of Anjou take pride of place. The most recent research that went into the reconstruction of the two ships, a galley and a sailing ship, that could take some 350 pilgrims as well as the undulating water surface and indeed the views of scenes below the surface, are novel developments in model building.

Acco was the foremost harbour city for the Crusaders. Up to the point in 1291 when Acco was given up, its fortifications sheltered the castles and palaces of all kingdoms and religious orders involved in the Crusades. The atmosphere being that of a combination of peacefulness and typically dynamic harbour life, the model vividly illustrates the opposing attitudes of pilgrims arriving and departing.

All exhibits, except the two glass cases, are protected by 2m-high safety glass shields.60 display boards coloured differently offer information on three topics: Introduction to the Eexhibition, Overview of prominent Christian Castles, Overview of prominent Muslim Castles.

Some 34,000 visitors went to see the exhibition in Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt / Main, and as many as 54,000 at National Geographic Museum, Washington DC.

This exhibition takes up some 500 sq.m space. It is available at short notice. 3-months loan time is recommended. Transport can be effected in two 7.5 t vehicles that must be able to reach the exhibition building.

Posters and flyers are available on CD. We are sorry the exhibition catalogue is sold out at present; a more complete version may be produced at short notice. There are also 12 postcards with prints of models shown in the exhibition.For any information on this exhibition go to and contact Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Siepen, Gesellschaft für Internationale Burgenkunde, Grindelweg 4, 52076 Aachen, Tel. 0241-604500, Fax 0241 – 604070.


Copyright: Gesellschaft für Internationale Burgenkunde e.V., Aachen
Stand: 27.02.2008