The Fortress of
is a fascinating place - a huge defensive castle in the
Zghorta district of North Lebanon.Built
in 1816 by Mustafa Agha Barbar, Governor of Tripoli, it sits
on a high hill overlooking a wide panoramic view.
Mustafa Barbar Agha was appointed Governor of Tripoli by the
Ottomans in 1798. He built his castle here because of the
strategic location and perhaps also because of the sense of
calm and security it provided. Even today from this hilltop
visitors can look down on olive orchards, wild gardens, and a
clear view of Tripoli and the coast.
You arrive at the castle by taking a wide set of grassy steps
which bring you to a front entrance guarded by a huge wooden
door covered with metal studs.
Within the 5 000 square meters of the castle walls are
stables, wells, sleeping quarters and reservoirs. The large
court has a central basin called "birket as-sbaa" or
" basin of the lions", named for the lions carved on
the stone. Look for the small rooms around the courtyard which
served as bathrooms in the old days.
A narrow stone staircase leads to a serail, where the governor
had his office. Nearby were the women's rooms. Unfortunately
the castle has lost most of its roof, except for the section
where some of Mustafa Barbar Agha's modern descendants are now
Behind the fortress a small graveyard holds the marble tombs
of Mustafa Barbar Agha and his family. There is also a mosque
and some old barracks in this part of the castle grounds.
You can reach the I'aal castle by going through Zghorta and
turning left towards the town of Kalldeye. I'aal village, with
its population of about 1 000 people, is only six km from