The Big One
Trip Start Aug 23, 2010
44Trip End Oct 13, 2010
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I spent about 2.5-3 hours at the site, and you could easily spend more walking around, taking your time etc and going into all the crevices (I think I hit most). You can walk inside almost all the walls, both the inner walls and the outer walls. The views from the top are also amazing, and the chapel and HQ tower were both well-preserved. There were more tourists here than other castles, perhaps because this castle is the only one that is open on Tuesday (normally the closing day for Syrian sites)
My flashlight came in handy as there were a ton of areas you could climb down into and explore. Syria does a nice job in not fencing areas of this castle off, but rather lets you go where you want. Of course, if you trip down the stairs, your body may not be found for a few weeks.
I had read alot about this castle before coming and it was cool to see it in person. A kid would like it here too, as he could play crusader for hours in a real castle.
Took a bus out there, and had another taxi incident on the way back. Went to St George's Monastery by taxi, which is down in the valley. Hoped to catch a bus back, but also wanted to check out some ancient ruins, so got a ride to the ruins and a nearby city where I took a bus back to Tartous. Spent more than I would have liked but it's all relative, still cheaper than Turkey. Plus, these sites are not convenient to get to if you don't have your own transportation.
The monastery was pretty empty, and not much to see. Some of it dates from the 5th Century
Went to Husn Suleyman, which is a ruined temple, first to Baal and then Zeus, until the Fourth Century. Best part of these ruins were that they were in the middle of nowhere, empty, and had some cool carvings still visible.
Got a ride back and helped my hotel owner with his computer. He had friends in town and I joined them for lunch and dinner, which was good.