The Crusades and the Knights Templar route to the Black Sea

History tells us that the purpose of the Crusades was to recover Jerusalem from Islamic rule, in particular The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Knights Templar were an elite force between 1095 and 1291. Knights were Christian societies and included: Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller, the Order of Saint James (Spanish), the Order of Calatrava (Portuguese), and the Teutonic Knights (German). Women were admitted to these orders, not just to teach the children of the Knights, but large numbers of non-fighters were required to support and organise the elite fighting force. As the movement grew along the route, they owned land, farms, vineyards and villages.

Founded in 1119 in Jerusalem, nine men started what was originally called the Poor Fellows Soldiers of Christ and of The Temple Solomon. They were a military force recognised by Papal Law in 1139. The then pope, Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull that allowed the Knights Templar special rights. Among them, the Templars were exempt from paying taxes, permitted to build their own oratories and were held to no one’s authority except the Pope’s. The Pope himself is a Temporal Prince. Myths link them to the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, and even the bloodline of Jesus Christ which some think they still protect to this day. Some say they sought to find and maybe then protect a secret that was thought to be buried deep under the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Their name was shortened to the Knights Templar or just Templars. These Crusaders, like the Greeks, Ottomans, Romans or others throughout history, travelled across the globe, and were considered to have been one of the finest and most ferocious fighting forces ever. They certainly were master builders or stonemason, making many buildings, some of which still stand today. These are often the buildings or ruins that cruisers, following similar sea routes, go to visit. These are not just churches and cathedrals, but castles and fortifications. They added hospitals and housing to deal with those who were wounded and housed those that left a trail of death behind them. It is said, like all intruders, the very first thing they built anywhere was a way out. The recent tunnels discover under Acre in Israel are a great example. Always look for the secret tunnel as you admire their building skills. Funding these ‘Christian military orders’ meant money was carried to Jerusalem, which meant at any point along the route they and the money were at risk. That financial protection and movement was the origin of today’s banks. Amongst the many stories, St John is found to reappear either as a namesake, or because they treasured and carried his bones; not least, it is said, his skull. History suggests they were broken up under pressure from the French King in the 14th Century, by which time the Catholic church had become their enemies. From the 15th century, the movement’s wealth was consumed into one: the order of Christ. The Order of Knights became Orders of Chivalry.

MALTAValetta was an obvious Templar stronghold. We have filmed both St John’s Catedral and the Knights hospital. The island was originally taken by the Normans, The Knights Templar ruled Malta from 1530. This was a stronghold of the Knights of St John and Hospitaliers. 

RHODES – was paired with Malta. The Knights here were Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.

ISRAELJerusalem. The film explains more than we could here, but they considered the head of the Christian church to be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To that end, they have built copies of it around the globe. Haifa. Known as Château Pèlerin/Atlit Castle/Pilgrim Castle, the Crusader fortress is outside Atlit on the northern coast of Israel, about 13 km south of Haifa. Acre is 40 mins from Haifa. It was a stronghold and recently under the walled city, they found incredible Templar escape tunnels to the sea.

CROATIA -For those on a crusade, in 1217 the Split castle of Klis (Clissa), was handed over to the Templars. It was a strategic point fort. Shortly after the Templars lost it to the King and they were given the coastal town of Šibenik in exchange.

SYRIA – The Crusaders captured Tartus in Syria in 1099 and built the stunning Krak des Chevalier (Castle). The Cathedral of Our Lady of Tortosa is also a crusader church that was later converted to a mosque. The Templar Fortress of Tartous. After the defeat, they retreated to Cyprus.

CYPRUS – The Knights Templar and Knights Hospitalier ruled Cyprus from 1244 to 1314. in the villages of Armanohori 10km from Limassol,  Finike or Foinikas have ruins of the abandoned village.



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