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A Great Old Crusader Castle

    Not many people know about the Crusader castle in the southern village of Tibneen, but it's well worth the long trip to get there. The castle's commanding position on a hilltop in the center of the town gives it its name "Toron", an old French meaning "high place".
    From here there are views in every direction, with an especially beautiful panorama taking in the coast and mountains of South Lebanon.
    Crusader Prince Hugh de Saint Omer, Governor of Tiberias, built the castle in 1105 to defend the area while he got ready for the siege of Tyre. In 1187 the castle fell to Salaheddin after the battle of Hittin, but the Franks won it back in 1229. Finally it was conquered by the Mamluke Sultan al-Zahir Baybars in 1266 and thereafter remained in Arab hands.
    In the centuries that followed, the Mamlukes and later the Ottomans, used the citadel for their own purposes and its structure was changed many times depending on who was in control. The Governor of Acre, Zaher al-Omar, for example, fortified and restored the castle, but his successor, Ahmad al-Jazzar, did his best to destroy it.
    Although the Tibneen castle has been altered a good deal, it retains the feeling of a  real fortress, with its massive walls and panoramic views. The building occupies 2,000 m2 and still preserves its main features:
1) a fortification wall with square or semi-circular towers,
2) t
he main entrance and
3) the arches of a tower, and
4) the remains of a bigger tower to the east.
    The big tower consists of three rooms with standing pillars and ceilings, while the remains of other towers are scattered around the site. The General Directorate of Antiquities is renovating this historic landmark, and the Ministry of Tourism is providing illumination so visitors can admire it at night.
    Tibneen, which is 112 km from Beirut, is reached by way of Tyre or Bint Jbail. This is major town with plenty of facilities, outdoor cafes and restaurants but, of course, the castle is the major attraction.

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