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
1) a fortification wall with square or semi-circular towers,
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.