The Crusaders

This page provides an overview of the Crusaders and lists the sites reviewed in

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  • First Crusade (1096-1099)

The crusade to liberate the Holy Land and free Jerusalem was initiated in the great council meeting of Piacenza (March 1095), following an appeal from the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos to repel the Muslim (Seljuk) Turks conquests in the south Turkey. Pope Urban II (1042-1099) pushed for a military action to the Holy Lands at the council of Clermont (27 November 1095), with the primary goal to assist the Byzantine capitol of Constantinople. His speech at the council had a great influence, resulting in a call for arms throughout Europe to regain the Holy Lands under the name of God.

A large force of volunteers was assembled in France, Germany and Italy,  estimated at 30,000-40,000, which included peasants, trained soldiers, knights and nobles. On their way to the east, the unorganized Crusader armies butchered the Jews in Germany and looted the villages along the way.

They fought their way to Constantinople, and finally reached the city a year later.

The campaign against the Seljuks took another year to complete (June 1098), ending with the conquest of the mighty city of Antioch after 8 months of siege (in June 1098 – see illustration below).

Siege of Antioch – Bohemond of Taranto climbs up the walls 

  – by Gustav Dore (French artist, 1832-1883)

   The Crusade now focused on the secondary goal, which is to liberate Jerusalem. In the beginning of 1099 the Crusaders continued from Antioch towards Jerusalem, encountering little resistance along the coastal way.  On June 7, 1099,  three years after the military expedition started in Europe, the Crusaders finally approached the gates of Jerusalem.  By then, their forces were reduced to about 10,000 soldiers.

The Crusaders first arrived to the site of Nebi Samuel, west of the city.  Their first assault on the city took place a week later, on June 13. This attempt failed, as they lacked the machinery required to pierce the strong walls.

    The Muslim Fatimid defenders chopped all the trees around the city. Therefore, the Crusaders waited until they secured a supply of wood which was required for building siege weapons, in order to breach the strong walls of Jerusalem.  The arrival of the ships from Genoa to Jaffa on June 15 brought craftsman, tools and wood which were needed for building the ram and other siege installations.

   The assault started on July 14, with the armies attacking the city from the north (headed by Godfrey), west (Tancred) and south (Raymond).

  The Muslim defenders initially  managed to repel the attacks with their use of catapults, throwing stones and burning pitch. Tancred attempted to capture the strong fortress on the west side of the city, known as the “Goliath” fortress (and later named after him).  However, he could not capture it, but managed to breach the city walls at this site. 

Attack on Jerusalem – the failed first day of the second assault 

– by Gustav Dore (French artist, 1832-1883)

   On midday of the second day of the siege (July 15) the Crusader’s ram managed to pierce a hole in the northern eastern wall adjacent to the Jewish quarter. The northern forces, headed by Godfrey de Bouillon, pushed into the breached walls  In parallel, the southern forces broke into the city from Mount Zion.    The attackers pushed into the city, beheading, burning and piercing with arrows all the inhabitants. Thus started a 3 day killing spree and sacking of the city. All the 40,000 inhabitants of the city – Jews and Muslims – were massacred, including men, women and children. This was a brutal conquest – according to chronicles of the period the Crusader horses “were up to their ankles in enemy blood” !.

The Egyptian Fatimid garrison, which was stationed in the tower of David, negotiated a truce and were allowed to leave the city unharmed, thus ending the campaign.   The city was virtually empty from its population, except a few Orthodox Christians.

    Following the capture of the city, which was the ultimate goal of the three years of the crusade, the joyful Crusaders celebrated their victory in the Church of Sepulchre, and established the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

   Godfrey de Bouillon was elected the King of Jerusalem (with the title of the “defender of the Sepulcher) on July 22, but died a year later, succeeded by his brother Baldwin of Boulogne. Raymond left to Jericho, then continued to conquer other cities. Tancred captured the Galilee and was appointed to be the “Prince of Galilee” and received its lands.  Tancred later received the regency of Antioch (1100), and remained there until his death at the age of 40 in 1112. Bohemond of Tarento,  Tancred’s uncle, was the regent of Antioch before Tancred (1098-1100). The four leaders of the first Crusade are illustrated here.


Leaders of the first Crusade – Godfrey de Bouillon, Raymond de Toulouse,

Bohemond de Tarento and Tancred d’Hauteville.

  – by Gustav Dore (French artist, 1832-1883)

  A final decisive battle between the Crusaders and the Egyptian Fatimid forces was held near Ashkelon on the south. The Crusader victory (August 14, 1099), which effectively used their cavalry to surprise the enemy, sealed their possession of the Holy Land for the following 200 years.

The Crusaders were driven out of Jerusalem  in 1187 by the Arab forces headed by Saladin. The Crusaders returned to rule the city for a short time (1229-1244) following the sixth Crusade.

The other Crusades will be detailed in a later phase:

  • Second Crusade (1147–1150)
  • Third Crusade (1189–1192)
  • Forth Crusade (1202–1204)
  • Fifth Crusade (1217–1221)
  • Sixth Crusade (1228–1229)
  • Seventh Crusade (1248-1254)
  • Eight Crusade (1270)
  • Ninth Crusade (1271–1272)
  • Tenth Crusade (1387-1392)

Sites of the Crusaders:

The following table lists the sites related to the Crusaders, ordered in alphabetic order. There are dozens of sites, as the Crusaders have made an incredible change to the landscape of the Holy Land in the 200 years of presence.

More than 75 tower castles have been identified in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, most of them dated to the 12th century. Other sites featured in the table are of churches and monasteries and other types of structures. The table lists only the sites that have been reviewed in

   Click on the site’s title to see more information on each site. Click on the photos to enlarge them.


Site What Where Time Form Sample Photo
__________ _________________ ________ _________ ________ _________________
(Click to get to the site)


(Casal Humberti)

An administrative center West Galilee ~1100



Town One of the ruins in Tell Achziv.
Acre Port The ancient port is located on the south east side of the old city.


Acre to 1291 Harbour
Atlit Atlit is a large Crusader fortress, 20KM south of Haifa. It was the last Crusader outpost in the Holy Land Carmel





Fortress, Harbour
Ateret In 1178 King Baldwin IV constructed a fortified outpost south of the pass Upper Galilee 1178




(Castellum Beroart; Castellum Beroardi)

The Crusaders renovated and reoccupied the Ashdod Maritime fortress Shefela 1131-1141

to 1290

Ashkelon A Crusader border fortress. Shefala 1099-1114,



Apollonia Remains of a Crusader fortress on a cliff. Sharon 1101-1187,


Afek of Galilee

(Recordane or Ricordane)

An ancient two-story Crusader flour mill and fortress West Galilee Flour Mill,


Tell Afek in the Galilee
Banias The Crusaders fortified the frontier city of Banias in the 12th century. Golan heights 1129





Beit Shean Beit Shean during the Crusaders times was a small town, first claimed by prince Tancred Yizreel





Belvoir Ruins of an impressive Crusaders fortress located on a high cliff above above the northern Jordan valley. Jordan


1168 -1187,


Berniki Hill Restored Byzantine church on a hilltop over Tiberias. Tiberias to 1187 Hilltop


Caesarea Maritima (“by the Sea”) One of the most important cities in the Roman World, and a Crusader fortress along the road from Acre to Jerusalem. Sharon -1189,



(Castellum Belveer)

Hilltop stronghold protecting the road to Jerusalem. Near Jerusalem to 1187 Fort
Tower of David Tower of David is Jerusalem’s citadel, located near Jaffa gate on the western side of the old city wall. Jerusalem 1099





Fortress on the acropolis, on the south-western side of the city Carmel to 1264 Fortress Tel Dor
Dubbah (Digegia) One of the 3 Crusaders villages on Mt. Carmel Carmel Village View of Khirbet Dubah from the south side.


Ruins of a small Upper Galilee village, part of the Lands of Godfrey le Tor. Upper Galilee Village
Ein Tut


12th century Crusader village had about 5 residential and farm houses, and a Church. It was managed by monks of the Cistercian order Judea Village


An agriculture town. Samaria Town
Gaza Fortified by King Baldwin III, guarded by knights of the Templars order Shefela 1149-1187 Fortress
Good samaritan

(“Red Castle”, Castellum Rouge)

The fortress was erected by the order of the Knights Templar to protect the pilgrimage road Judea



to 1187




(“Cafarlet” or “Capharlet”)

A Crusader fortress Carmel-coast to 1291 Fortress
Hannathon A fortified farm was built on top of the hill. The underground halls of the structure can be visited today. Lower Galilee Fortified farmhouse Tell Hannathon - view from the west
Horns of Hittim Best known for the crucial battle between Saladin and the Crusaders Sea of Galilee 1187 Battlefield
Hunin Ruins of a Crusaders frontier fortress Upper





Knights halls Crusaders main fortress and headquarters Acre 110x



Fortress Acre: Knights Halls

Last Supper (Coenaculum)

Traditional site of the the location of the Last Supper Jerusalem Sacred Site Last supper hall


Located on the side of the road from Jaffa and Ramla to Jerusalem. Ayalon







Ruins of a Crusaders fortified farm complex, including a sugar processing factory. Upper Galilee 1169





Manot: press base for sugar refinery


Ruins of a Crusaders fortified farm complex, including a sugar processing factory. Upper Galilee 1169





Manot: press base for sugar refinery
Mar Elias Monastery on the side of the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Built over the ruins of a Byzantine church. Jerusalem 1160



Monastery Mar Elias Monastery
Mary’s Tomb A church at the traditional place of the tomb of the virgin Mary. Jerusalem to 1187 Tomb,


Migdal Afek The fortress of Migdal Afek controlled the narrow pass of Via Maris. Shefela 11xx to


Mi’ilya (King’s castle) First belonged to the Crusader King Baldwin III, called the “King’s fortress”. Upper Galilee Castle Kings fortress in Mi'ilya
Monastery of the Cross A large center in the 13-14th century, and hosted a hundreds of Georgian monks, scholars and poets. Jerusalem Monastery
Montfort Ruins of a remote Crusaders castle located in the heart of the nature park of Kziv creek. Upper Galilee Mid 12th century

to 1271

Muristan The site of the Crusaders Hospitallers quarters and hospital Jerusalem 1099-1187 Hospital Muristan - the market
Nebi Samuel A military fortress, religious site and a hostel for Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Judea 1099



Fortress, Church, Inn
Nimrod One of the largest and most impressive fortresses in Israel. Golan heights 1129-1132,


Fortress Nimrod fortress - view from the south-western tower
Pater Nostre Built on the ruins of the Byzantine Eleona Basilica on Mt Olives Jerusalem 1152



Church Pater Noster: eastern hall
Qaqun (Caco, Chaco) Remains of a Crusader and Mameluke period fortress Sharon ~ 1123



Kh. Qarta


A small Crusaders post east of the Atlit fortress, built as a police station Carmel shore 1118




(Kola or Cola)


Ruins of a Crusader fortress Shefela 1181



Red Tower

(Turris Rubea)

Remains of a small Crusader period keep near Kefar Yonah. Sharon 1100-1150



St. John

Samaria city

Crusaders built on the ruins of the eastern gate. Dedicated to John the Baptist, built over traditional site of his tomb Samaria Church

(Le Saphorie)

The Crusaders rebuilt sections of the city and the fortress Lower Galilee to 1187 City, Fortress Sepphoris: The "Mona Lisa" of the Galilee.
Holy Sepulchre One of the most holiest churches, located in Jerusalem at the traditional site of Golgotha Jerusalem 1099



Church Entrance to the Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.

(Le Saffran)

The Crusaders built here a fort to protect the road from Acre to Nazareth West Galilee to 1187,


Siah Brook (St. Brocardus) Ruins of a small 13th century Carmelite church and monastery in Siah brook Carmel 1200


1291 (?)

Monastery The ruins of the church in Siah Brook
St. Anna One of the few surviving large structures from the Crusaders period Jerusalem 1099



Stella Maris Crusaders built a fortress over the ruins of the Byzantine church Carmel to 1291 Fortress Mary holding son - Stella Maris
St. Gabriel Byzantine Church Rebuilt by the Crusaders in the 12th century Nazareth to 1263 Church
St. Gerassimos Monastery near Jericho, rebuilt by the Crusaders over Byzantine ruin Jordan Valley Monastery
St. George

(St. Jorge de Lidde)

Church with remains of St. George – most important Christian soldier-saint Lod (Lydda) 1150-1170

to 1191

St. George Koziba A cliff hanging Byzantine monastery in the valley of Wadi Qelt, near Jericho. Judea desert 1179 restored Monastery
St. John Ba Harim Built by the Hospitallers over Byzantine ruins Ein Kerem



1104-1187 Church
St. James, Armenian section Built over the ruins of the Byzantine church. Jerusalem Church St James - entrance to the Armenian Church
St. Joseph’s House A Crusaders church was built over the site of the Byzantine church- the church of the Nutrition, or St. Joseph’s House. Nazareth to 1263 Church St Jozeph church as seen from the west side.
St. John the Baptist Center of the Knights Hospitallers , and functioned as a hostel and a hospital to the wounded Crusaders Jerusalem 1099



St. John the Baptist, Christian quarter
Sultan’s pool (“Germanus” pool) Water reservoir west of the old city Jerusalem Water reservoir Sultan's pool - south side
Synagogue Church, Nazareth Built by the Crusaders. According to tradition, it is the site of the synagogue of young Jesus Nazareth Church
Tabor On top of Mount Tabor are ruins of the Crusaders fortress, ancient chapels and churches, and other structures. Yizreel valley Fortress, Churches,


North-west tower
Tancred fortress Ruins of a fortress, dated to the Crusader period, located on the north west corner of the old city. Jerusalem to 1187
Taibe in the Galilee

(“Le Forbelet”)

Remains of a Crusader fortified farmhouse, in the center of et-Taiyibe in the Jezreel valley. Yizreel valley 1168



Fortified farmhouse
Tel Yizreel

(Parvum Gerinum, Le-Petite Gerin)

A small Crusaders village built on the ruins of a major Biblical city Yizreel valley to


Village Tell Yizreel: walls on the south side
Tel Tanninim On top of the hill of Crocodilopolis are remains of the Crusader period tower. Sharon to


Temple mount

(Templum Domini)

Turned the Dome of the rock to a church, Al-Aksa mosque to Baldwin’s royal palace in 1104, naming it King Solomon’s palace. Jerusalem 1099-1187 Church,


Templars tunnel Built by the Crusader Templars to connect their fortress on the south-west side of Acre to the harbor Acre ~1187



Military tunnel Acre: Templars tunnel


A crusaders fortress was located on the south east side of the old city. Sea of Galilee 1100? to 1187 Fortress
Tel Tzafit

(Blanche Garde – white fortress)

A small castle and village were built on the mound. Shephela 1142-1187,




Tel Tzova

(Belmont – pretty mountain)

A castle and village on a hill Jerusalem hills 1169-1187 Fortress,


Visitation church, Ein Kerem Upper floor of the visitation church shows remains of the Crusaders church, especially on the south wing. Jerusalem Church Ein Karem - church of visitation


Fortified town on the side of Via Maris above Sorek valley Shefela 1099-1187,



Fortress, Church, Town
Yehi’am Fortress Crusader hilltop fortress West


1192 – 1271 Fortress

(Cain Mons)


Stands in the entrance of a mountain pass through Mount Carmel Yizreel


Fortified town, Church


Huge fortress, on a high hill above the city of Zefat.
Upper Galilee 1157



Zonem Farming Upper Galilee Village
Zohar Fortress in the Zohar valley, guarding a mountain pass Dead Sea Fortress

Total: 78 sites. More will be added….

Map of sites:

   View an interactive map of the Crusaders fortresses in Israel.

Etymology – behind the name:

  • Crusades  – a series of religious campaigns in the 11th thru the 14th centuries, in the objective of liberating Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Islamic rule. The word ‘Crusader’, an 18th century English word, is based on a Medieval term of a crusader (crucesignatus -“one signed by the cross”), which lead to the French word croisade.
  • Jihad – Islamic religious war against unbelievers.



    • Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1097-1192 – Book by David Nicole (Osprey publishing, 2004)
    • Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1192–1302 – Book by David Nicole (Osprey publishing, 2005)

Crusaders battle – AI Illustration by DALL-E 2


    – Travel to the Crusaders sites


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This page was last updated on Apr 19, 2023 (add AI illustration)

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