The Citadel of Salah al-Din is strategically situated in the mountains off the Syrian coast approximately twenty-five kilometers east of Latakia on the way towards Aleppo. It stands on a long ridge encompassed by two gorges on either side creating a grandiose presence amongst the surrounding forested landscape. While the site was probably first settled during Phoenician times in the first millennium BC, the bulk of what survives today is from the early 12th century, Crusader period, including stone walls, high protective towers, and the presence of a moat. The eastern section of the site is separated from the complex by a deep chasm that connects the two ravines. A thin piece of rock twenty-eight meters high is all that remains in the middle of this rift; it once supported a bridge that connected the two parts of the site creating the citadel's main entrance at one point in time. Salah Ed-Din overtook the fortress in 1188 in what is noted as one of his most successful military campaigns. Succeeding Ayyubid and Mamluk administrations developed a palace, mosque, baths, cistern and a madrasa in the heart of the site.
The Ayyubid and Mamluk sections of the castle were restored by the Aga Khan Historic Cities Program between 1999 and 2001. The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006.
Ball, Warwick. 1998. Syria A Historical and Architectural Guide. New York: Interlink Books, 123.
"Citadel of Salah Ed-Din". Historic Cities Programme Website. http://www.akdn.org/hcsp/Syria/Syriapages4_9.pdf [Accessed May 25, 2005]
"Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din". UNESCO World Heritage Center. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1229/. [Accessed February 15, 2007]