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Belhasem Fortress

 

· South

Sfariyeh village houses the remnants of a Crusader era fortress, known as Belhasem and Qalaat Abou El Hassan.

The fortress served to protect the hinterland and the coastal city of Saida.

*The fortress is currently closed for the public*

Timeline 

Belhasem's history is rarely known:

Western chronicles mentioned once the fortressin 1128, and described it as a fortress controlled by few robbers. 

As per Eastern chroniclers, the fortress was taken by Salah El Din El Ayoubi after his great victory over the Franks at Hattin, a few days before he seized Beirut, in September 1187. Belhasem thus became a frontier place for the Ayyubids and would keep this role until 1291, date of the final capture of Saïda.

Belhasem appeared again in the 17th century, as part of the struggle of Fakhr El-Din II against the Ottoman Empire. 

Structure

The fortress is erected on a 80m height rocky hill, rectangular shaped of a100x30m surface. It is accessible through a tower-gate which only foundations remain.

A second well preserved semi-circular tower-gate made out of 2 floors flanks the rocky outcrop to the east. For its lower part, it is about stones with bossage of large module whose aspect and proportions evoke those met in Frankish parts of Beaufort castle. For the upper part, the tower is of a smaller module and the faces are perfectly squared, linking it to a possible modification under the Ayyubids.

Once past the second gate-tower, immediately branch off at right angles to the west to enter, through a final gate, into a long gallery pierced with niche loopholes, which leads to the summit plateau. A series of vaulted rooms attached to each other, oriented east-west, and all pierced with a single splayed arch can be observed.

*Scroll down to enjoy the pictures.

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Karim Sokhn

Tour Operator & Tour Guide

References:

http://www.orient-latin.com/fortresses/belhacem

chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/http://www.mot.gov.lb/Content/uploads/Publication/150224022249815~LT9.pdf

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The second tower-gate

The upper levels

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