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Panoramic Views > North > Akkar > The Fortress of Akkar el Atiqa and Sergius Bacchus

The Fortress of Akkar el-Atiqa'a and Sergius Bacchus Church

The Caza or District of Akkar is one of the most beautiful regions of Lebanon and gives its name to the region Akkar el-Atiqa’a, with the addition of Atiqa’a, the Old, in order to distinguish this particular area from the caza as a whole. The region that interests us particularly is 135km. from Beirut, with an altitude varying between 750 and 1450 meters. The word Akkar means a barrier or wall and the fortress played a major role particularly during the Crusades and the lordship of the Al-Saifa Tannoukhiyines.

It was built some time towards the year 1000 by Muhriz Akkar, who gave the place his own name. It is situated on a mountain top strategically dominating the valley, controlling the Tripoli-Homs road and protecting the Arca Plain from Muslim attacks and in this way ensuring free communication between the coast and the interior.

The fortress is now in a state of ruin, with only a part of the northern tower remaining. A ladder is needed for one to reach the door, which is three meters, or about ten feet, above the ground. This part was restored by Baybar.

The area of Akkar el-Atiqa’a is one hundredth of that of Lebanon, that is to say 100km.2, with forests, plains and springs. As it is rich in natural resources, one finds there water wheels, former cellars and ancient churches.

The fortress remained in the possession of the family of Muhriz ibn Akkar up till the year 1019. It was seized by the Fatimites some time between 1033 and 1094 and then retaken in 1170 by the Crusader King of Jerusalem Amaury. Later, the fortress became the property of the lords of Enfeh (Nephin) before being ceded to the Counts of Tripoli in 1202.

It was a veritable aerie and the Muslims under Baybar resolved to take it out of the hands of the Crusaders in 1271. Under the Ottoman Turks it was occupied by the emirs of Beit Saifa until it was seized by Fakhreddine II the Great, who then destroyed it.

The castle was originally composed of a rectangular tower with four lateral ones and with ramparts pierced by arrow slits, staircases and vaulted roofs over its halls. The Arabs rebuilt certain towers on which one may see base-reliefs of lions with the insignia of Baybar.

In the valley overlooked by the fortress there flows a river of pure water good for drinking that is fed by springs and by the melting snows. It is in full sight of other constructions. A tank was built in order to assure the water supply for the castle and one may see the ruins of a mosque and a small monastery restored in 1916.

Youssef Saifa, the chief of the Tanoukhiyines, was said to be Greek Orthodox, which seems logical enough, for to raise the banner of revolt and to become independent, holding out against the Sublime Porte, the Sultanate of Istanbul, one had to belong to some community other than that of the Sunnites, who were the most loyal subjects of the Ottoman Empire and of its sultan, who incarnated the highest Islamic authority, that of the caliphs.

Joseph Matar
Translated from the French by K.J. Mortimer

- The Fortress of Akkar el Atiqa: >> View Movie << (2009-05-01)
- Sergius Bacchus Church: >> View Movie << (2014-05-01)



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