Yesterday, a team of French architects and archaeologists arrived in Syria to help rebuild Krak des Chevaliers, a historic castle in western Homs partially destroyed by clashes.
The French experts were invited by Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s antiquities chief who has also been instrumental in salvaging UNESCO sites in recently liberated Palmyra.
Krak des Chevaliers castle – another UNESCO site – was seized by rebels in 2014 but subsequently recaptured by government troops, leaving it heavily damaged by mortar fire.
“Sadly, there is really a lot of work to do,” said Jacques Seigne, Emeritus Research Director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) upon assessing the damages.
Jacques Seigne and his French team will be training young Syrian architects and archaeologists in restoration techniques for the next 12 months.
The Syrian castle sits on a hill overlooking northern Lebanon and was used by crusader powers during the Middle Ages as an impregnable fortification.
“Restoration work requires techniques and financing, of course, but one of the greatest aspects of restoration work is the human element,” Seigne said.
Seigne is working with Sawa Consulting, which works on cultural projects in conflict zones, to deliver the training across accessible parts of Syria.
A military map featuring the current frontlines in Homs province – including the position of Krak des Chevaliers castle – can be seen here.