Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea Maritima on the Palestinian coast boasts the best-preserved Crusader urban defences, largely because this site was abandoned for centuries after it had been retaken by the Mamluks. The main city gate was on its eastern side and had a drawbridge supported by a stone vault, which has been reconstructed. The lines of the town's fortifications follow those of the early medieval Islamic defences, though the walls themselves received their final form when Louis IX of France had the city refortified in 1252. The original height of this mid-13th-century wall is unknown, but in several places there were casemated arrow slits with sloping sills; the whole being fronted by a talus rising 8m from the base of a dry ditch 7-8m wide and 4-6m deep. The vertical counterscarp remains, along with 14 projecting towers. One tower on each of the landward sides of Caesarea had a bent entrance. The ruins of a castle were found on the southern harbour mole, consisting of a keep behind a wall with rectangular towers fronted by a sea-level rock-cut moat.

The mid 13th-century fortifications of Caesarea, as rebuilt by the Crusading King Louis IX of France, are the most complete examples of unaltered Crusader urban defences in the Middle East. (Duby Tal)

The excavated outer defences of Caesarea Maritima on the Palestinian coast clearly show how the moat of the refortified city followed the line of the wall precisely. The sloping lower part of the city wall is on the left while the near-vertical retaining wall of the moat is on the right.

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