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Qadesh (Tell Nebi Mend) تل النبي مند) قادش)

Scene of the Battle of Qadesh, 13th century BC. Little of historic interest remains on the mound now occupied by the modern village but the visitor will gain an appreciation of the sequence of events that led to the historic clash between Egyptian and Hittite forces in the thirteenth century BC. The outcome of the […]

Qalaat Abu Qobeis قلعة أبو قبيس

The inner reaches of the Syrian coastal Mountains (Jebel Ansariye) are studded with castles built in inaccessible locations by the Ismaelis. During the Crusader period, this sect — an offshoot from Shi`ite Islam — built up their presence in these mountains to escape pressures from the orthodox Sunni powers of the Syrian interior, on the […]

Qalaat al-Kahf قلعة الكهف

Once entirely disconnected from the outside world due to its remote location and lack of roads, this site is now accessible by a sealed route right up to the castle entrance. The location, however, remains beautifully poised on its ridge at a point where three ravines meet in largely untamed and forested country. كانت هذه […]

Qalaat al-Khawabi قلعة الخوابي

The Ismaeli castle at Qalaat al-Khawabi lies approximately 20 kms northeast of Tartus in the Syrian coastal mountains. One of the Ismaeli strongholds of the Crusader period, the castle was re-fortified by Rashid al-Din Sinan, the Ismaeli leader, after 1160. The castle surrendered  to the Mamluks under Baybars in 1273. The castle hosted a village […]

Qalaat al-Mudiq قلعة المضيق (Apamea أفاميا)

Visitors to Apamea often don’t spare the time to visit the prominent remains of the largely Ayyubid (late eleventh century onwards) fortifications lying above the modern town of Qalaat Mudiq. This is virtually the last remaining fortified site in Syria where the villagers still live within the castle walls, though most of the town these […]

Qalaat Areimeh قلعة العريمة (Arima)

Built to protect the Crusader route between Tortosa (Tartus and Tripoli (to the south, in modern Lebanon) from attack originating in the Muslim interior through the Homs Gap, Areimeh was built before 1149 and after 1177 entrusted to the  Templars based in Tartus. The castle is divided between three enclosures separated by rock-cut ditches or […]

Qalaat Bani Qahtan قلعة بني قحطان

This site once housed a Byzantine fort (Argyrokastron) during the tenth/eleventh century Byzantine re-occupation of the Syrian coast. Later in the eleventh century it became an Arab fortification (hence the modern name, referring to a traditional southern Arabian tribal grouping, the Bani Qahtan). Initially taken by Tancred in the opening years of the Crusader period […]

Qalaat Burzey (Qalaat Mirza) قلعة ميرزا

The castle of Burzey (Qalaat Burzey or Mirqa) lies on a spectacular site suspended above the Orontes Valley on the edge of the coastal mountain range, the Jebel Ansariye. تقع على السفوح الشرقية للجبال الساحلية (جبال النصيرية) وتطل إطلالة رائعة على وادي العاصي وسهل الغاب. يظهر المخطط المرفق المراحل التاريخية المتعاقبة في القلعة، اللون الأحمر […]

Qalaat Jaabr قلعة جعبر

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this Islamic fortified site is its location, today perched on an island connected to the north bank of the Euphrates Lake by a bridge. Not much remains of the castle’s interior beyond the round minaret from its mosque, but the circuit walls clearly show the typical fortified plan of the […]

Qalaat Maniqa (Qalaat al-Maniqa قلعة المنيقة )

Little remains within the enclosure of this Ismaeli castle taken from the Crusaders by Rashid al-Din Sinan (‘the Old Man of the Mountain’ of Crusader legends) after 1160. Externally, the circuit walls survive in part on the northeast and northwest. For description, Monuments of Syria (third edition, I B Tauris, London 2009), page 231.  منشآت […]

Qalaat Marqab قلعة المرقب

While its deep grey basalt stone often conveys a grim and formidable impression, a visit to the castle on its breathtaking site overlooking the Mediterranean can often provide a different experience when the vegetation and wildflowers soften the scene. High on its perch where the mountains descend precipitately  into the sea, Marqab occupies a key position […]

Qalaat Mehelbeh قلعة المهالبة

Like many of the sites later fortified during the Crusades, this defensive outpost began as a Byzantine fort. Under the Crusades it was a dependency of the Lord of Saone (now the Castle of Saladin) but fell to Saladin in 1188. كانت هذه القلعة حصناً دفاعياً متقدماً للبيزنطيين، وفيما بعد أثناء الحروب الصليبية كانت تابعة […]

Qalaat Najm قلعة نجم

This Islamic fortification — largely the work of the twelfth century sponsored by the rulers of Aleppo — lies 102 kms northeast of Aleppo on the Euphrates River. These photos convey some essential features of the Islamic style of fortification namely the tightly-organised structure based on a circular plan with a central corridor. Entrance is […]

Qalaat Ollaiqa قلعة العليقة

This relatively small castle of the Crusader era had an unusual history — it was ‘traded’, i. e. sold to the Ismaelis by the Crusaders in the 1180s. The site was probably originally a Byzantine fortified position surveying the deep gorge of the Nahr Jobar. The castle is discussed on page 238 of Monuments of […]

Qalaat Rahba (Qalaat al-Rahba قلعة الرحبة )

This isolated outpost on the middle stretch of the Euphrates was intended to protect the desert route from invaders originating in the east. An Ayyubid project, it remained in use in Mamluk and Ottoman times but the ravages of invasions (notably Mongol) and the effect of the harsh climate have left their mark on the […]

Qalaat Saladin قلعة صلاح الدين

Sited in an extraordinarily dramatic location, deep in the inner recesses of the Jebal Ansariye, the Castle known to the Crusaders as the Château de Saône is today labelled the Castle of Saladin. The modern name honours the extraordinary achievement of Saladin in taking the castle in 1188, shortly after his great victory at the […]

Qalaat Shirkuh (Palmyra) تدمر – قلعة شيركو

This Ayyubid fortified post looks down over the site of Palmyra and provides a wonderful vantage-point over the classical ruins, especially at sunrise or sunset. The castle was built as part of the Ayyubid efforts to protect the desert route between the Euphrates and Damascus, with further improvements under the early Mamluks. The castle was […]

Qalaat Yahmur قلعة يحمور

An almost perfectly preserved example of a fortified Crusader-era tower, once part of the outer defences of the Hospitaller fortress at Tortosa (Tartus). تعتبر هذه القلعة نموذجاً شبه كامل لعمارة الأبراج المحصنة في الفترة الصليبية، وقد كانت فيما مضى جزءاً من نقاط الدفاع الخارجية عن تحصينات الفرسان الاوسبتاليين في طرطوس. Location map —     […]

Qalb Lozeh قلب لوزة

One of the most intact examples of church architecture in the Limestone Massif area, the Qalb Lozeh basilica is also a bold attempt at experimentation in Byzantine construction history. Instead of dividing the nave from the side aisles by rows of columns, the builders used sweeping transverse arches resting on piers, allowing for a freer […]

Qanawat قنوات

This charming town nestled into the northwestern slopes of the Jebel Hauran contains many reminders of its rich ancient past. The main attraction — known to early European visitors as the ‘Seraya’ due to its resemblance to a ‘palace’ of a ruler — is more accurately a complex mixture of two separate Roman basilica structures […]

Qara قارة

This small town on the eastern flanks of the Anti-Lebanon was not noted for its historic remains until recently. Two of its important Christian structures have now been restored or refurbished. The Great Mosque, though considerably remodelled over the centuries, still retains the west wall of the Byzantine Church of St Nicholas which stood on […]

Qasr al-Heir al-Gharbi (West) قصر الحير الغربي

Only a few fragments of the original structure remain at this site—the core of a Byzantine tower incorporated into the Umayyad structure and some gateposts of the entrances. To get some impression of the remains, more can be gained from a visit to the National Museum in Damascus, where the reconstructed great gateway and many […]

Qasr al-Heir al-Sharqi (East) قصر الحير الشرقي

This fascinating complex, an example of the early Umayyad attempts to tame the Syrian interior and introduce irrigated agriculture to the steppe, lies almost 100 kms east of Palmyra. Two striking enclosures provided a complex to be used by the Caliph in his transit between Iraq and Syria. They also sheltered caravan traffic, brought a […]

Qasr Ibn Wardan قصر ابن وردان

Qasr Ibn Wardan today lies in fairly marginal country on the edge of the Syrian Steppe. Once it housed a Byzantine mansion house / church complex typical of such establishments intended both to exploit the area’s agricultural potential and to ensure its protection. The mansion house or ‘palace’ is dated by inscription to AD 564, […]

Qatna (Tell al-Mishrife تل المشرفة )

This Bronze Age city was originally dug in the 1920s, during the French Mandate period. More recent excavations by several Syrian and European teams have revealed a city with the attributes of a rich kingdom, as revealed by the remains of extensive Middle / Late Bronze Age palace complexes including an intact royal grave. Qatna […]

Qatura قاطورة

This small site, scattered between houses of a modern village, contains a surprising variety of remains including Roman funeral reliefs and rock-cut tombs, a two-column funeral monument and a tower. تنتشر البقايا الأثرية من العصر الروماني في هذا الموقع بين بيوت القرية الحديثة، وتتضمن مجموعات متنوعة وفخمة من المنحوتات الجنائزية والمدافن المحفورة بالصخر، إضافة إلى […]

Qinnisrin قنسرين‎ (Chalcis ad Belum) or al-`Iss العيس

Little remains of the ancient Roman and Byzantine town, once protecting an important cross-roads on the communications route between Antioch and the Syrian Steppe. The small town of al-`iss (العيسى) lies under the mountain today topped by the tomb of an Islamic holy man. The classical-era fortress covered the smaller acropolis hill southwest of the […]