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قلعة, Page 2

Masyaf
مصياف

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 …

Qalaat al-Shamamis
قلعة الشماميس

Qalaat al-Shamamis (قلعة الشماميس) is a largely ruined Ayyubid-era castle located just a few kilometers northwest of Salamiyeh (سلمية). The castle dates from 1231 and was built on the flattened top of an extinct volcanic cone by the Ayyubid Prince of Homs, al-Mujahid Assad al-Din Shirkuh II (المجاهد أسد الدين شيركوه), who ruled between 1186 and 1240. The castle was destroyed by the Mongols in 1260 …

Qalaat al-Madiq
قلعة المضيق

Qalaat al-Madiq (قلعة المضيق) is a large village located on the main road that travels the length of the eastern side of the al-Ghab plain north of al-Suqeilbiyeh (الصفيلبية). While most well-known for the neighboring site of Apamea (آفاميا), Qalaat al-Madiq (قلعة المضيق) itself has a few attractions of note. Foremost is the castle that overlooks the town, which was largely constructed from remains of the nearby Roman …

Qalaat al-Rasafeh
قلعة الرصافة

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 …

al-Nabi Houri
النبي هوري

Perhaps the most expansive of the Roman and Byzantine sites in the countryside of Aleppo (حلب) are the remains located at al-Nabi Houri (النبي هوري). Seldom visited due to its remote location, the site contains extensive remains of a once significant ancient city. These remains include an impressive Roman theater and tower tomb as well as two bridges that remain in use today. There are …

Qalaat Najm
قلعة نجم

Qalaat Najm (قلعة نجم) is an impressive fortress located on the west bank of the Euphrates River east of Aleppo (حلب). The castle is known from Arabic texts to date back to at least the 7th century, possibly constructed over earlier Roman-era fortifications. Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zenki (نور الدين محمود زنكي), who ruled from 1146 through 1174, was responsible for reconstructing the earlier fortress at …

Qalaat al-Shaghur
قلعة الشغور

Qalaat al-Shaghur (قلعة الشغور), also known as Bakas (بكاس), is one of the most impressive castle sites in Syria. While the remains of the Crusader fortress here are minimal, the stunning location makes it well worth a visit. The castle sits on a rocky promontory, hundreds of meters above a sharp bend in the river known locally as Nahr al-Abiad (نهر الأبيض‎), a tributary of the Orontes …

Harem
حارم

Harem (حارم) is small town overlooking the rich Plain of Amuq to the east of Antioch (modern Antakya), across the border with Turkey. It is more attractive than most Syrian towns thanks to the locals preference for blue paint over bare concrete. The main item of interest here is the rather dilapidated 12th century Ayyubid fortress that dominates the center of the town from an …

Maarat al-Naaman
معرة النعمان

Maarat al-Naaman (معرة النعمان) is a large town located in a somewhat prosperous agricultural belt on the southeastern edge of the limestone massif area of northern Syria, between the Orontes River and the desert. It is fairly conservative, and the population almost entirely Sunni Muslim. Traces of ancient remains are found scattered throughout the town, illustrating its antiquity. Though known to the Greeks and Romans …

al-Bara
البارة

al-Bara (البارة) is the site of an extensive Byzantine-era settlement, perhaps the largest in the limestone massif, and should be included on any itinerary to the region. In addition to numerous villas and churches in varying states of preservation, the site has two pyramid tombs (one of which is richly decorated with stone carvings), an interesting monastery complex, and a small fortress constructed centuries later. While …