Qalaat al-Rasafeh (قلعة الرصافة) is a little known and seldom visited Ismaili castle located about seven kilometers into the mountains southwest of the town of Masyaf (مصياف). While largely in ruin, it is a picturesque site surrounded by forest and worth a stop if in the area. The castle was built in a semi-circular plan from local limestone and its current shape dates back to the end of the 10th century, though there may have been some fortifications here as far back as Roman times. During the Crusader period, the castle maintained communication between of Safita (صافيتا) and Masyaf (مصياف). The castle remained in use through the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods, but fell into neglect under the Ottomans.
Getting There: To reach Qalaat al-Rasafeh (قلعة الرصافة), one must first travel to Masyaf (مصياف). There are regular microbuses that travel from Hama (حماة) to Masyaf (مصياف), a trip which takes about 45 minutes. Qalaat al-Rasafeh (قلعة الرصافة) is only seven kilometers to the southwest of Masyaf (مصياف), so hiking from there is feasible. Other options would be to hire taxi in town, or to look for another microbus from Masyaf (مصياف) bound for Wadi al-Ayoun (وادي العيون), which will pass within 500 meters of the site.
While there is a trail through the forest from the village below up to the castle, exploring the interior of the site can be a bit challenging due to the overgrowth of vegetation. Be prepared to scramble through a lot of brush to fully explore the site.
Coordinates: 35°02’15.16″N / 36°18’01.12″E
Transliteration Variants: Qalaat al-Rasafa, Qalaat al-Rasafah, Qalaat al-Rasafe
Rating: (4 / 10)