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Abu Qobeis Citadel

25 km north of Masyaf (about 65 km west of Hama); a small, compact castle named after the Abu Qobeis spring next to it, round in shape with five towers and a central, but badly ruined, building. It affords a superb view over the Orontes Plain towards Shaizar and Hama. It gives every appearance of an Islamic work, judging by the rough stonework and the method of construction.


The site had earlier been utilized by the Byzantines in the 999 campaign of Emperor Basil II to recover Syria. Then it was held to the Emir Ibn Amrun who sold it to the Ismailite, when they moved in the area, along with Qadmus and Qalaat Kahf.


Bokebeis (the Crusader name of the castle) may have been occupied for a time (during the first half of the 12th century) by the Crusaders, before the Ismailites were present in strength in the area. There is, however, no living evidence of Crusader construction and little reference to the castle in the historical record though it was believed for a time to have paid tribute to Marqab. (the annual tribute for Abu Qobeis was 800 gold pieces).