Masyaf (مصياف) is a predominantly Ismaili town about 45 kilometers west of Hama (حماة). The primary attraction of Masyaf (مصياف) is the Ismaili castle, one of the best preserved in Syria. The town itself is also a pleasant place to explore, with an old section of town and a scenic location at the foothills of the coastal mountain range. The castle can easily be combined with other sites in the countrysides of Hama (حماة) and Homs (حمص).

The site had been used during the Seleucid, Roman and Byzantine periods for defensive purposes, and the Crusaders seized the castle in 1103. The Crusaders lacked the resources to maintain a small castle so far inland from their coastal stronghold, however, and by 1141 it had been taken by the Ismailis. It became an important center for their sect, particularly under the leadership of Sinan.

After the Ismailis made two unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Salah al-Din, their base at Masyaf (مصياف) was threatened by attack from his forces. Salah al-Din laid siege to the castle in 1176, but called off his campaign under mysterious circumstances. At Salah al-Din’s bedside were found cakes, a dagger, and a threatening note, likely left by an Ismaili agent within his ranks. In 1260 the castle fell to the Mongols, and Mamluk Sultan Baibars took control in 1270.


Getting There: Microbuses regularly travel between Masyaf (مصياف) and Hama (حماة), a 45 minute trip. Masyaf (مصياف) also has public transportation connections with:

  • Homs (حمص), frequent microbuses, about a 45 minute trip.
  • Deir al-Salib (دير الصليب), about a 15 minute trip.
  • Tal Salhab (تل سلحب), for Qalaat Abu Qubeis (قلعة آبو قبيس), about a 30 minute trip.
  • al-Qadmous (القدموس)
  • Tartus (طرطوس)

Coordinates: 35°03’58.39″N / 36°20’36.52″E

Transliteration Variants: Misyaf, Musyaf

Rating6.5 out of 10 stars (6.5 / 10)

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