· Keserwan

Tabarja town houses a defensive tower that dates back to the medieval era.

It is located on a private property and the visits require a pre-approval by the owners.

Historical Backround

Following the Mameluk victory over the Crusaders and their conquest of the Levant, a series of watch towers were built on the coast in the 13th century. However, others towers seemed to date back long before that period: around the Tabarja tower, one can find bases of columns and architectural elements that date back to the Roman or Byzantine era - its origins need to be retraced to know if the structure foundations may date from an earlier period. 

The towers once formed an unbroken chain of light-of-sight observation posts from Naqura to Naher el-Kebir. Their purpose was to defend the coast by preventing future crusader landings.

The Tabarja tower faced the Naher el-Kalb tower and was under the authority of the Assaf Turkmen Emirs of Ghazir. It is however falsely attributed to empress Helena.

Structure

Measuring about 6 meters hight and cubic-shaped, the tower's facings is smooth, except for a few rubble stones which bear a slight embossment.

The tower is accessbile through an open door on the eastern side. The ground floor is barrel-vaulted and was only lit by a small light pierced under the ridge of the vault, which is now half-collapsed.

The upper level, still partly preserved, has a groin vault which is also half collapsed. A particularly rich defense program has been implemented: the south face is pierced by 3 whistle archers while the west face, the one facing the sea, is pierced by two archers framing an oculus. 

You can check a similar structure located in Ras Nhash Citadel.

*Scroll down to enjoy the pictures and to locate the siteon the map.

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Karim Sokhn

Tour Operator & Tour Guide

References:

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

Acknowledgement to Charles Hayek, Heritage & Roots

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