Templar History: Cathedral of Tortosa

Templar History: Cathedral of Tortosa

The Cathedral of Tortosa in modern day Syria is the largest building of the Crusaders' period which is not related to a castle or the protection of a town. It was erected during the Templars' tenure of Tortosa on the assumed site of a church built by St. Peter and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

From 1152 until 1291, the Knights Templar governed the area.

While under control of the Knights Templar, an earthquake damaged the cathedral in 1202, but it was repaired soon after.

In the 1260s, the church building was fortified to protect from Mameluke attacks.

Since the church doubled as a fortification, the Templars were able to hold it even after Tortosa was taken by Saladin in the year 1188. Saladin, who was able to unify the warring Muslim factions, made them into a robust army and won an important battle at Hattin, capturing nearly all of the Templar holdings, save for those near the coasts. The Knights Templar continued to use the church as a kind of headquarters until the year 1291, when it was also taken.

Once captured by the Mameluke’s, the church was turned into a mosque. Later, under the Ottoman Empire, the church was used as a place of storage. The church was recently renovated, although now it is used only as a museum.