Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي) is an impressive Ismaili castle located over the village of the same name. It has been largely modified over centuries of occupation by local villagers and the original layout of the castle is somewhat difficult to distinguish, but a visit is still worthwhile. Interestingly, Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي) is one of the few Sunni Muslim villages in the area in a region that is predominantly Christian and Alawite.
Getting There: Getting to Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي) is, unfortunately, not so simple. There is a village below the castle, but microbuses between Tartus (طرطوس) and Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي) are very infrequent. The microbuses depart Tartus (طرطوس) across the boulevard from the main bus station, on the southbound (western) side of the street. Hopefully, there will be one waiting. The trip takes about 30-45 minutes. Large buses depart for Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي) from the bus station a couple times per day, as well.
Alternatively, any microbus bound for al-Sheikh Badr (الشيخ بدر) can drop you at the sign-posted turn-off for Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي), though this leaves you about six kilometers to walk and/or hitchhike. It is an attractive stretch of countryside, so if you have time on your hands, this isn’t a bad option. Upon reaching an intersection in a small village after a short distance, head to the right. Qalaat al-Khawabi (قلعة الخوابي) is actually directly ahead, but this road doesn’t descend into the valley and there is no path. The road to the right will wrap around the hills, pass through another village, and eventually bring you to the castle.
Coordinates: 34°58’22.39″N / 36°00’07.72″E
Transliteration Variants: Qalaat al-Khawaby
Rating: (5.5 / 10)