Salkhad Castle, locally known as Qalaat Salkhad, is situated on a small mountain in the town of the same name, south east of the city of Damascus, near the Jordan border.
Though the town itself already existed during biblical times, the first fortification on this site was probably built by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mustansir around 1073-74.
In 1146 Salkhad Castle was sieged by the combined armies of Muin ad-Din Unur; Lord of Damascus, and Nur ad-Din Mahmud; son of the famous Zengi, to crush a revolt.
The present ruins of Salkhad Castle date back to the first half of the 13th century when the Ayyubids built the castle to protect Damascus against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In the second half of the 13th century however the castle was conquered by the Mamluks and in 1277 the castle was rebuilt by the Mamluk Sultan Baibars.
In the 1920’s the south of Syria was a French Mandate. When the mainly Druze population of Salkhad revolted against the French, they entrenched themselves in the old castle. This lead to an air raid during which the castle was bombarded which destroyed the castle. The castle has been a ruin ever since.
The ruins of Salkhad Castle have been used for military purposes during several decades at the end of the 20th century and were therefore inaccessible. During the 1990’s some restauration works were carried out.
At present the castle can be visited freely. There is however still some kind of military radar installation on the highest point of the castle ruins. Photographing this building is still prohibited.
This nice castle is a little of the beaten track but worth visiting. Although the remains above ground may be little, the mountain is riddled with subterranean rooms, vaults and passageways.