Legend claims the Castle of Nimrod was built by the king of Babel, son of Cam “the first to hold power above the earth”. Indeed, remains of fortification at this obviously strategic position date far back into antiquity. Yet most of its fame – and almost all its construction – spring from the period of the Crusades.
At that time it constantly changed hands between the Arabs and the Frankish knights. On one rare occasion the Christians even fought together with soldiers from Damascus to oust the Emir of Banyas from his fortress. When the Crusaders themselves were driven out, the castle became a shrine of the “Hashashin”. These mystic Shi’ite Moslems practiced political murder – and gave the world the word, Assassin.
Not far from Nimrod, nestling on the eastern foothills of Mount Hermon, is the quiet Druze village of Majdal Shams.
Meaning the Tower of the Sun, the town is now peaceful, although the Druze have a proud military heritage. They successfully fought the French at the turn of the last century. A statue of their hero, Sultan el-Atrach, dominates the town square.
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