The Nimrod Fortress or Nimrod Castle ( ar|قلعة الصبيبة ''Qal'at al-Subeiba'', "Castle of the Large Cliff", later ''Qal'at Namrud'', "Nimrod's Castle"; he|מבצר נמרוד, ''Mivtzar Nimrod'', "Nimrod's Fortress") is a medieval Ayyubid castle
situated on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon
, on a ridge rising about 800 m (2600 feet) above sea level. It overlooks the Golan Heights
and was built with the purpose of guarding a major access route to Damascus against armies coming from the west.
Alternative forms and spellings include: ''Kal'at'' instead of ''Qal'at'', the prefix ''as-'' instead of ''al-'', and ''Subayba'', ''Subaybah'' and ''Subeibeh'' in place of ''Subeiba''.
The area is under Israel
i occupation and administration since 1967
together with the adjacent Golan Heights. The international community sees the area as Syria
Though once thought to be of Crusader construction, the fortress was built around 1228 by Al-Aziz Uthman, the son of Saladin
's brother al-'Adil, to preempt an attack on Damascus
by the armies of the Sixth Crusade
. It was named ''Qal'at al-Subeiba'', "Castle of the Large Cliff" in Arabic. The fortress was further expanded to contain the whole ridge by 1230. In 1260 the Mongol
s captured the castle, dismantled some of its defenses and left their ally, the son of Al-Aziz 'Uthman, in charge of it and the nearby town of Banias
. After the subsequent Mamluk
victory over the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut
, Sultan Baibars
strengthened the castle and added larger towers. The fortress was given to Baibars's second-in-command, Bilik
. The new governor started the broad construction activities. When the construction was finished, Bilik memorialized his work and glorified the name of the sultan
in a 1275 inscription. After the death of Baibars, his son arranged for Bilik to be murdered, apparently because he feared his power.
At the end of the 13th century, following the Muslim conquest of the port city of Acre (Akko
) and the end of Crusader
rule in the Holy Land
, the fortress lost its strategic value and fell into disrepair.
The Ottoman Turks
conquered the land in 1517 and used the fortress as a luxury prison for Ottoman nobles. The fortress was abandoned later in the 16th century and local shepherds and their flocks were the sole guests within its walls.
The fortress was ruined by an earthquake
in the 18th century.
who came to the region during the 1860 conflict
between themselves and the Maronites
began calling it Qal'at Namrud (Nimrod's Castle), anachronistically attributing it to the Biblical Nimrod
The entire fortress complex is 420 m (1350 feet) in length and 150 m (500 feet) in width, and is built of large, carefully squared stones. Along the walls are numerous rectangular and semi-circular towers, roofed with pointed cross-arches.
Overlooking the high, eastern edge of the fortress stood a large keep
, measuring 65 by 45 metres (200 by 150 feet) and protected by massive rectangular towers. Remains of several luxurious halls, water pools, rooms, suggest that this might have been the residence of the governor as well.
The fortress overlooks the deep, narrow valley that separates Mount Hermon
from the rest of the Golan Heights
, the road linking the Galilee
, and the former Crusader
town of Banias
The site is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority
, and visitors can explore the excavated and restored portions of the fortress.
The fortress entrance is from the west, and the first section contains "secret corridors"—winding staircases and underground water cisterns with some of the original plaster still visible. There are many examples of "loopholes" in fortress—special windows that are narrow on the outside but wide on the inside. They were designed specifically for shooting bows and arrows or crossbows, giving the defender inside the fortress plenty of room but the attacker only a narrow slit as a target. The central part, which is accessible by a path within the fortress, contains the remains of a keep
surrounded by large rectangular towers. In the western section, there are the remains of a fortress within a fortress, which was protected by its own moat and drawbridge. This is the oldest part of the castle, which was built the first.
The park entrance is located on Route 989 between Kiryat Shmona
and Mount Hermon
, about twenty minutes east of Kiryat Shmona.
, an Israeli settlement
, is located nearby.
In the Israeli film ''Beaufort
'', the castle substituted for Beaufort Castle
, which is located in southern Lebanon.
File:Banias from the 1871-77 Palestine Exploration Fund Survey of Palestine.jpg|Plan from the 1871-77 PEF Survey of Palestine
File:Nimrod Fortress 3408813155).jpg|Nimrod Fortress - view towards the keep
File:Nimrod Fortress 3408805611).jpg|Nimrod Fortress - cistern
File:Israel - Nimrod - fortress cistern (4714152066).jpg|Nimrod Fortress - cistern
File:Israel - Nimrod - fortress room (4713514013).jpg|Nimrod Fortress - room with door, loophole
File:Israel - Nimrod - fortress inner window (4713513417).jpg|Nimrod Fortress - room with loophole
Nimrod Fortress park
at Israel Nature and Parks Authority Nimrod Fortress park
at Israel Nature and Parks Authority Pictorial compendium of Nimrod Fortress
Category:Castles in Syria
Category:National parks of Israel
Category:Medieval sites on the Golan Heights
Category:Tourist attractions in the Golan Heights
Category:Forts in Syria
Category:Castles of the Nizari Ismaili state