The most impressive historic monument in the region of Lattakia (اللاذقية) is the magnificent Crusader castle of Qalaat Salah al-Din (قلعة صلاح الدين). Known as Saône to the Crusaders, this site should be considered a must-see if visiting the coastal region. Not only is the castle itself spectacular, but the surrounding countryside provides some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Syria.
Getting There: Getting to Qalaat Salah al-Din (قلعة صلاح الدين) is relatively easy, though public transportation can only get you within four kilometers of the site. The first step is to take a microbus from Lattakia (اللاذقية) to the friendly and predominantly Sunni village of al-Hafeh (الحفة), a trip which takes about 30 minutes. Any microbus traveling between Lattakia (اللاذقية) and Slenfeh (صلنفة) will also pass through al-Hafeh (الحفة) and the road leading to Qalaat Salah al-Din (قلعة صلاح الدين).
Once you have arrived in al-Hafeh (الحفة), there are two options: hiring a driver, or hiking. Motorbike drivers will take you to the castle at a low rate, while taxi drivers will likely charge two or three times more. Expect to pay at least double if you want them to wait and drive you back.
Alternatively, it is an extremely pleasant and highly recommended hike from al-Hafeh (الحفة) to the castle. From the center of the village (generally the final microbus stop), continue heading east out of the village in the direction of Slenfeh (صلنفة). Just beyond al-Hafeh (الحفة) a sign points to the right (south) for Qalaat Salah al-Din (قلعة صلاح الدين). From here, it is about four kilometers to the entrance of the castle. Stick to the main road and after about one kilometer you’ll enter a small village, where another sign will point the way (left) to Qalaat Salah al-Din (قلعة صلاح الدين). After a short distance the castle will come into view across the valley; follow the road which winds down into the valley and then up the other side. Note that there is a freshwater spring in the small (and apparently abandoned) restaurant alongside the stream at the bottom of the valley.
Coordinates: 35°35’46.42″N / 36°03’28.40″E
Transliteration Variants: Qalaat Saladin, Qalaat Salahaddin, Qalaat Salahadin
Rating: (9 / 10)