Saone Castle / Saladin's Castle
Saone Castle / Saladin's Castle Latakia Reviews
Crusader Castle on a Green Hill Top Jun 24, 2011
Qalat al Marqab
Saone Castle is located on a high lush green mountain plateau. The castle itself is surrounded by a deep gorge, unbroken forests and mountain air, still think you’re in Syria? Saone Castle fell in combat to Salah Ed-Din, and has since been known as Saladin’s Castle. Saladin’s Castle is one of Syria’s most rewarding castles, partly for its exotic location, partly for its unique dry moat defence.
In 1119 the Castle was owned by Robert of Saone who was given control of it by Roger, Prince of Antioch. The castle is unique as being one of the few which were not entrusted to the major military orders of the Hospitallers or the Templars.
The castles walls were breached by the armies of Saladin in 1188.
The highlight of the castle is the ridiculously deep dry moat and its Cleopatra’s Needle rock used to support the drawbridge. The 28 metre deep moat was cut into the rock by the Crusaders - madness. The moat is 156 meters long, 14 to 20 meters wide and now acts as the vehicle access road. Where the drawbridge previously gave access to the castle remains an impressively massive gatehouse. Here you can stand on an iron frame sticking out above the moat and proceed to fill your pants.
The castle has two areas. The first main upper area has a number of renovated towers you can climb for good views. A mosque, chapel and cistern are also accessible. The lower area of the castle is currently off limits. A café inside the castle is an excellent location to have some tea while overlooking the lower area. Even exploring just the upper area takes some time, as it is a bloody big place. Saone Castle has some of the steepest, tallest defences I have ever seen – brilliant. Syria is all about high, unprotected drops, and you definitely won’t be disappointed here.
To get to Saladin’s Castle you will have to use a taxi from Latakia (30km away) or try to approach from the east to enjoy the spectacular mountain road that rises from sea level to 600 metres up in a matter of minutes.
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