Fortress of Niha

Cave of Tyron - Chquif Tayroun


Useful Information

Location: Niha Chouf, Distrikt Jezzine, . 65km southeast of Beirut in the mohafaza of Mount Lebanon. From Niha follow the road to the Al Nabi Ayyoub Shrine (مقام النبي ايوب), at the hairpin bend turn off straght ahead and keep left at the next fork. Turn right on gravel road after 600m. There is a parking lot with a nice view and a short walk to the fort.
Open: no restrictions.
[2020]
Fee: free.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Castle
Light: bring torch
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided, D=90min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Paul Deschamps (1939): Une Grotte-Fortresse de Croisés dans le Liban. La Cave de Tyron, Mélanges Syriens Offerts A Monsieur René Dussaud. Band 2, Bibliothèque Archéologique et Historique XXX, 1939. Français - French
Kristian Molin (2001): Unknown Crusader Castles, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001.
Denys Pringle, Peter E. Leach (1998): The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, University Press, Cambridge 1998.
Address: Fortress of Niha, Tel: +961-3-051106.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

975 first mentioned.
1133 mentioned as stronghold of the Druze chieftain Emir Dahhak Ibn Jandal al Tamini.
1182-87 conquered by the crusaders.
1240 returned to the crusaders by as-Salih Ismail of Damascus.
1257 sold to the Deutscher Orden.
1261 destroyed.
1270 Mamluk leader Baibars orders it rebuilt.
1585 Emir Qorqomaz Maan probably took refuge in it before his death.
1635 Emir Fakhr-al-Din II found refuge here before he was executed by the Pasha of Damascus.
1936 archaeological excavations by Commandant Bigeaud.

Description

The Fortress of Niha is an ancient fortress located in the municipality of Niha Chouf. It is tín the Shouf Biosphere Reserve and was built in a natural cave in the west facing escarpment overlooking the Bisri and 'Aray valley. It was erected to control the the road between Sidon and the Beqaa valley. As it was of importance during the crusades it was several times conquered and controlled alternatively by the Crusaders and local Muslims. It was destroyed and rebuilt and was used as a hideout from the Pashas wrath by various Emirs. Obviously this was rather common, and it was futile.

The fortress was built several hundred meters deep into the rock, although it is hard to tell how much actually was a cave and how much was dug. It was big enough to shelter not only a big number of soldiers but also store important and valuable goods. There were silos to safely store provisions. The fortress also had an excellent water supply. There was a small spring namedn 'Ain el-Halquoum and a rain collecting system.

The castle ruins are freely accessible, there is a parking lot and a trail along the ledge. The trail is maintained but has no railing, surfootedness and no fear of heights are necessary. Bring a torch, a hat, sun protection and sturdy footwear.