Qalaat al-Shamamis (قلعة الشماميس) is a largely ruined Ayyubid-era castle located just a few kilometers northwest of Salamiyeh (سلمية). The castle dates from 1231 and was built on the flattened top of an extinct volcanic cone by the Ayyubid Prince of Homs, Malik al-Mujahid Shirkuh II (who ruled between 1186 and 1240). The castle was destroyed by the Mongols in 1260 but restored by Baibars, having been incorporated in the province of Damascus. While the remains are not well-preserved, the setting of this castle is spectacular and makes it a worthwhile detour.
Getting There: Microbuses run very frequently between Hama (حماة) and Salamiyeh (سلمية), a trip that takes about 30 minutes. The do not depart from any of the main microbus stations in Hama (حماة), but rather from the main street just south of the city center, about 50 meters from the clock tower. Qalaat al-Shamamis (قلعة الشماميس) is clearly visible on the north side of the road on the western edge of Salamiyeh (سلمية), a few kilometers before the city center. It takes about 30 minutes to hike up to the castle from this road.