Imagine a triangular spur of land with deep gorges on the two sloping sides, dig through the rock on the third side and you create a high, rocky island on which you can build an impregnable castle – or that was the Crusaders’ theory.
They dug through the rock to a depth of around 120ft leaving one rock pinnacle to support a drawbridge into the Castle.
These days, as you can see from the photo, the drawbridge has long gone and the road runs either side of the rock pinnacle.
Today you enter the Castle from the other side up a long flight of stairs.
By the way the Crusaders’ efforts were in vain – Saladin breached the walls and took the Castle after a two-day siege.
The Crusaders went off to try and do better at Crac de Chevaliers where we’ll go in a few days’ time, and Saladin’s Castle became an Islamic stronghold until it was finally abandoned around the 15th century.
Inside there is a Palace, hamam, chapels, mosque and lots of towers from the tops of which there are incredible views.
When we visited it was blowing a gale, and it felt like we could actually get blown off the towers if we didn’t hang on tight to the 1,000-year-old stonework.
Unfortunately it is impossible to get a good overall picture of the Castle without descending the gorge on the far side and climbing up again.
So settle for this view of some of the very solid structures still remaining with the walls.
On the left is one of the original Crusader towers.
On the right an Ayubid mosque that was added after Saladin took the Castle.