Qalaat al-Rahbeh (قلعة الرحبة) is a small fortress located on the southwestern edge of the Euphrates river valley, near the modern town of al-Mayadin (الميادين). While the castle is in a fairly poor state of preservation it remains an impressive sight, dominating the surrounding countryside. It makes for a worthwhile stop if traveling between the archaeological sites of Tel al-Hariri/Mari (تل الحريري/ماري) and Tel al-Salhiyeh/Doura Europos (تل الصالحية/دورا آوروبس), to the southeast, and the city of Deir al-Zur (دير الزور), to the northwest.
The earliest fortifications at the site appear to date form the early 9th century, that fortress being largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1157. The castle was rebuilt shortly after this, during the time of Nur al-Din’s rule. After the Mongol invasion, the site was largely abandoned and fell into disrepair. The elements have taken a heavy toll over the centuries, as the castle was constructed primarily from brick, rather than the large stones utilized in castle building in the west of the country. Excavation and restoration at the site has been ongoing.
Getting There: Getting to Qalaat al-Rahbeh (قلعة الرحبة) is a bit of a challenge, but can be accomplished without private transportation. The castle is located about three kilometers outside of the modern town of al-Mayadin (الميادين), which has frequent microbus connections with Deir al-Zur (دير الزور). It would be easiest to hire a driver in al-Mayadin (الميادين) to travel the remaining three kilometers, but the distance can be walked. The castle is southwest of the town.