Enchanting Castles in the Middle East

When the word castle crosses my mind, the image captured in my head is usually of some kind of fairy tale where a prince fights for his princess. Or maybe of Troy and the famous Trojan war.

Although most castles were originally built with the aim of withstanding enemy attacks or sieges, most castles that exist in the Middle East today are abandoned, or have become historical monuments because of the beauty, location and history enfolded in their walls.

Here are just a few of the enchanting castles of the Middle East:



Citadel, Egypt


Andrey Korchagin
Andrey Korchagin

The Salah El Din Citadel of Cairo is a medieval Islamic fortification in Cairo, Egypt located on the Mokattam hill. The Citadel was fortified by the ruler Salah El Din to protect it from the crusaders.

With large imposing gateways, towers and high defending walls, the Citadel is one of Cairo’s main attractions and probably the most popular non-pharaonic monument in the Egyptian capital. The fortress is home to three mosques, a carriage museum, a military museum and a garden museum.



Arg-E Bam, Iran


The fortress of Arg-e-Bam islocated in Bam, a city in the Kermān Province of southeastern Iran and is considered by many to be the biggest most beautiful mud-brick structure in the world. It is listed by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site “Bam and its Cultural Landscape”.

The origin of this enormous citadel on the Silk Road can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC) and even beyond.



Khanzad Castle, Iraq


Located 15km north of Erbil on the road to Shaqlawa, Khanzad Castle dates back to the Soran Period. The stone castle features a squat turret on each of its four corners.



Al Karak Castle, Jordan



Kerak Castle is a large crusader castle located in Kerak in Jordan. It is one of the largest crusader castles in the Levant. It dates back to 1140s, constructed under Pagan, Fulk of Jerusalem’s butler. The Crusaders called it Crac des Moabites or “Karak in Moab”



Moussa Castle, Lebanon



Moussa Castle is located between Deir el Qamar and Beit el-Din in Lebanon. It was constructed single-handedly by Moussa Abdel Karim Al Maamari.

It was said that Maamari built it after being rejected by the girl of his dreams who wanted to marry someone who owned a castle. It took him 60 years to build it.



Auberge Le Festival, Morocco 


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Proving that castles are not only built for kings or rulers, this spectacular castle was built for anyone wanting to experience the tranquil and breathtaking atmosphere of  Todra Gorge in Morocco. With the serenity and peace of the desert all around you, this lodge is a must visit for anyone traveling to Morocco.



Nakhl Fort, Oman



Nakhal Fort is one of the most magnificent forts in Oman. One of the most unique features of Nakhal Fort is that it does not follow any uniform shape. The shape of the fort instead follows the irregular outline of the massive boulder on which the fort is built.

The lower level of the fort has a mosque, a well, and a date storage room, while the upper level of the fort is where the Wali residential quarters is located, with a variety of rooms for the family, seasonal reception halls for men and women and designated rooms for the children.



Marid Castle, Saudi Arabia



Qasr Marid is a castle in Dumat Al Jandal in the north of Saudi Arabia built some time before AD 270. The castle commanded the old city of Adumato and is one of the most important archeological landmarks in the area.

It was built of stones above a 600 m tall hill that overlooks the Domat Al-Jondal town. It has an oval shape and consists of a fence with openings for surveillance. It also has four towers, some of which are 12 m tall, and two deep wells. The castle’s main building is consisted of two floors and a number of rooms that were used for security, shelling and surveillance



Krak des Chevaliers, Syria



Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. It was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

The castle sits on top of a 650-metre-high  hill east of Tartus, Syria in the Homs Gap. It is known for its strategic location as it connects the cities of Tripoli and Homs.



Genoese Castle, Tunisia



The town Tabarka is dominated by an offshore rock on which is built a Genoese castle. Nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba, later to become president of post-independence Tunisia, was exiled here by the French colonial authorities in 1952.



Shaharah Castle, Yemen



The isolated Medieval castle was constructed with many cisterns and granaries. It was capable of sustaining long sieges for months and therefore remained unconquered for centuries. It’s located on top of a mountain, 2600 m high.



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