Qalaat Areimeh (Areimeh Citadel):
Areimeh; about 20 km south east from Tartus; was built as a crusader castle, to help safeguard the routes between Tortosa and Tripoli, to protect the coastal plain leading to the Homs Gap and to strengthen the outer defenses of Tortosa (Tartus).
Little remains of the original fabric though the scale of the defenses can be seen and part of the walls shows the quality of the Frankish work. The dates of the original construction are not known but it was presumably begun even before 1177 when the Templars were given responsibility for the security of the region around their base at Tortosa.
Certainly the castle was there in 1149 when Bertrand of Toulouse seized it from Raymond III, Count of Tripoli, whom he suspected of having murdered his father. Unur, a Muslim ruler of Damascus, in turn sought the support of Nur al-Din and the two Muslim leaders dislodged Bertrand and went on to destroy and sack the castle. Bertrand was sent into captivity to Aleppo and Raymond was captured a while later.
The ruins cover an area of 80 m by 300 m on the crest of a small rise. The land falls away steeply to the east. Located in beautiful Olive-growing country, on a good day the castle enjoys breath-taking views towards the usually snow-clad peak of Mount Lebanon well to the south.
Qalaat al-Arimeh (قلعة العريمة) is a large Crusader castle located near the village of al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة) to the southeast of Tartus (طرطوس). The remains are in a fairly poor state of preservation, and largely overrun with vegetation, but several towers survive and the site is a popular picnic spot with locals. Qalaat al-Arimeh (قلعة العريمة) is worth a visit if only to admire the scale of the defenses and explore one of the less visited sites in the area.
Getting There: Reaching Qalaat al-Arimeh (قلعة العريمة) is somewhat of a challenge and will likely require a bit of a hike. Public transportation runs as close as the Alawite village of al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة), about four kilometers south of the castle. Microbuses to al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة) depart from the main bus station in Tartus (طرطوس). Be aware that in the morning it tends to be easier to find these microbuses heading south-bound on the main boulevard: many of those who live in al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة) commute to Tartus (طرطوس) for work, so in the morning most drivers simply turn around and head back to al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة) to pick up more commuters. The trip to al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة) takes about 30 minutes.
From al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة), a road heads east and then winds back to the northwest, uphill, before descending into a valley which the castle overlooks. An alternative route, and slightly shorter walk, is to get off the microbus about a couple kilometers before al-Safsafeh (الصفصافة) at the sign-posted road (English and Arabic) pointing to the castle. From here, it is about three kilometers to the castle. This road also passes by the monastery of Deir Mar Elias (دير مار الياس), which is worth a visit if time allows.