Rahbeh Castle (Qala’at Rahbeh) Qala'at Malek ibn Tauk

Rahbeh Castle


Location: 40 km South of Deir Ezzor Map

Constructed: 9th century


Description of Rahbeh Castle or Qala’at Rahbeh

Rahbeh Castle or Qala’at Rahbeh is a medieval stronghold situated 40 km South of Deir Ezzor in Syria. Rahbeh Castle or Qala’at Rahbeh was erected in the 9th century AD. First fortifications date back to the Abbassids. Defenses were further increased under orders of Nur Al Din. This strategic hill was an important site in the defenses of the Euphrates river. However the garrison of the Rahbeh Castle was wiped out by the Mongols in the middle of the 13th century. Walls and towers were abandoned and over subsequent centuries it fell in disrepair. The site was excavated and reconstructed by the French- Syrian archaeological mission in 1978.


The facility is located on an isolated rocky dome on the eastern edge of the desert. It is surrounded by a deep moat and essentially consists of two pentagonal wall rings reinforced with rectangular towers and a pentagonal donjon. Walls and towers are made of basalt blocks, inside the castle complex the brick masonry sometimes bears geometric ornamentation of Mesopotamian and Persian tradition.

A weir probably existed here already in the Abbasid period in the 10th century. After the death of the Grand Seljuq Sultan Malik-Shah I in 1092, his brother Tutusch I was proclaimed Sultan in the Qalʿat ar-Rahba in 1093 and prevailed as the ruler of Syria.

In 1103, the castle came into the possession of Tutush's son Duqaq. It is mentioned in 1105 when Duqaq's brother Artasch, the only 12-year-old throne prince of Damascus, fled here from Damascus after the defeat of the Muslims in the third battle of Ramla.

In 1117 the castle was owned by Aq Sunqur al-Bursuqi, the Atabeg of Mosul. After 1128 it came under the control of the Zengids. Nur ad-Din (reg. 1146–1174) had the apparently significantly damaged system fundamentally rebuilt, and an uncle Nur ad-Dins oversaw the construction work.

The Mamluken Sultan Baibars I used the castle in the 13th century as an important base in the defense against the Mongolian Ilchans. In 1267 it withstood a siege by the Mongols.

The Qalʿat ar-Rahba, however, just as little as the Qalʿat Dschaʿbar withstood the incursions of the Mongolian Timurids and was finally abandoned around 1401. Ruins that are worth seeing have been preserved from the imposing complex at the time.