Margat Castle

Margat Castle

Margat Castle MapMargat Castle is a medieval stronghold near a town of Baniyas in Tartus Governorate of Syria. It was constructed in 1062 by the Muslims to prevent attack from the Western European and Byzantine threat. Margat Castle was one of the largest citadels of the Knights Hospitallers in the Holy Land.



Location: Baniyas, Tartus Governorate   Map

Constructed: 1062


History of Margat Castle

Margat citadel was erected in 1062 by Muslim Arabs on the site of an extinct volcano. This natural hill reached an elevation of 360 metres above sea level and overlooked a strategic trading route between Tripoli and Latakia. In the early 12th century Byzantines managed to capture Margat Castle. They didn't hold it for too long Just few years later Tancred (1075- December 12, 1112), Norman Christian leader in the First Crusade, Prince of Galilee and regent of Principality of Antioch, managed to capture the fortress and add it to the Principilaty. In 1186 Bertrand Mazoir of Antioch sold Margat Castle to the Roman Catholic order of Knights Hospitallers.


Knights Hospitallers used Margat Castle as the base of their military and humanistic operations. They expanded its defences and living quarters to house more soldiers and more pilgrims. During invasion of 1188 by Saladin, great Muslim military ruler didn't even try to storm the citadel seeing this action as being futile due to its defences. Occasionally it served as prison as it happened in the early 13th century when Richard I of England captured Cyprus and imprisoned Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus (or Komnenos, Byzantine royal family) inside Margat Castle. It was finally taken on 23 May 1285 to Mamluk commander Fakhr al- Din Mukri after Muslims managed to dig several tunnels underneath the military defenses.

Margat Castle was inhabited till around 1884. It eventually lost its military value, but it remained as a administrative center of surrounding lands as well as a resident of the kaymakam or "military governor" of the district.