KRAK DES CHEVALIERS
The example we’re going to use as a portrait of retreat defensibility is the Syrian Crusader castle called Krak Des Chevaliers. Given to the Knights Hospitallers in 1140 and rebuilt to more or less what you see in the picture, Krak Des Chevaliers is an excellent example of retreat defensibility. Consider that it was built smack dab in the middle of hostile territory; the Knights Hospitallers were white Christians who were on a crusade to keep the roads to the Holy Land open. As such, they faced an almost incessant onslaught of hostile Muslims; what emerged to keep them safe was the mighty hilltop fortress of Krak Des Chevaliers.
If you’re thinking at this point that perhaps we’ve lost our collective minds by suggesting that you build a fortified hilltop castle, let us reassure you. We’ve chosen Krak as an example of an excellent retreat only because on a large scale, most everything about the castle works. We’re trying to show you in a most exaggerated sense what features about this castle work – the theories on retreat defensibility are just as sound today as they were in 1140. In short, we know Krak Des Chevaliers is a ridiculous example, but it’s only ridiculous in the sense of, say, using macroeconomics to explain the value of money to an individual.
It’s like looking at the US national budget and trying to relate it in terms of balancing your checkbook; there are many, many parallels that can be learned simply from economies of scale – read on.