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Saint-Gilles Citadel

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Tripoli, Tripoli district

The Citadel of Raymond de Saint Gilles, in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, is among the most impressive in the Middle East. It rivals those in Aleppo and Amman, for sheer size and preservation, but also for its exciting location, rising above a multitude of densely-populated Tripoli neighborhoods and sporting views of the sea and the mountains to the east. Named after one of the first major Crusaders in the region, the original battlements were built during the 12th century. It was burned in a devastating attack by the Mamluks in 1289, but was renovated and expanded in 1308 by the Crusader governor of what was at that time the County of Tripoli, and much of what remains today was built during this time. It was again renovated and expanded during Ottoman rule, and an inscription above the main gate commemorates these improvements as commissioned by the sultan. Today, very little remains of the citadel’s Crusader roots, though a few tombs of Frankish knights have been located. Beyond the site’s fascinating and complex history, visitors will be thrilled by the spectacular views, the labyrinthine tour, and the extraordinary sound of the city’s streets reaching up the ramparts into the rarefied air of the castle.