Qalaat al-Marqab Reviews
Marqab Fortress Apr 18, 2011
Marqab Fortress, or as it is called in arabic, Qalaat Marqab, is located near Baniyass City around Homos - Syria.
It is another crusade fortress and also related to the Knights Hospitaller.
It had fourteen towers and the infamous Salahedin once besieged the fortress but he was unable to capture it.
It was remained under the control of the christians during the persian conquest.
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Mountain Top Crusader Fortress - Margat Jun 21, 2011
Qalat al Marqab
Driving south down the Syrian coast from Baniyas, a huge black castle perched ominously high on a hill top comes into view. Is this castle worth exploring? Syria has so many castles after all…
Margat, (Qalaat al-Marqab) is a black basalt Crusader castle located 6km south of Baniyas. Resting on a 500m high ridge that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, the castle commands a formidable presence. As with most Crusader castles in Syria, Margat belonged to the Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (Hospitillars). Its high walls resisted siege by Saladin in 1188, making it one of the few Crusader castles not to fall to him. The castle fell to the Mameluk sultan of Egypt in 1285 after its walls were mined. Its defenders put up such a brave fight that they were allowed safe passage to Joan of Arc (Acre).
The black basalt castle is extremely photogenic, and worth a wander around. There were few other western tourists when I visited, but plenty of friendly Syrian school trips wanting to practice English. The castle main citadel is in very good condition, and incorporates dizzyingly high towers, with a two tier inner and outer wall defence. As well as being to explore the citadel roof and huge interior rooms, a number of pitch black staircases and dungeons can be explored by those with a torch. The northern castle town area is not as impressive as the citadel, being heavily overgrown. But it does offer fantastic views of the sea and nearby villages. I fell over and smashed my camera in this area, swearing very loudly.
To get to the castle you will need to use a taxi from Baniyas or rent one for a day from Latakia. The entrance has a ticket office, restaurant and some tourist stalls. It is a pleasant walk back down from the castle to the sea. If you can tolerate Dan Cruickshank’s condescending and boorish manner, I’d recommend watching his ‘Adventures in Architecture’ series which has a feature on Margat.