Perched on top of a rocky promontory, the ruins of a castle of the Byzantine era are rising. Quickly, the impressive bastille becomes the empire capital of the Assassin cult. With Rachid ad-Din Sinan, nicknamed the “Old man in the mountain”, in control, the Ismaelian cult of Nizârites aims to conduct spy missions and assassinations of important enemies (caliphs, vizirs, sultans and Cruisaders leaders).
In the year 1176, exasperated by these repetitive murders, Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, wants to take control of this hostile country. The siege led by his troops gets bogged down as the castel resists. One day, Saladin wakes up with a knife under his pillow. The “Old man of the mountain” message is clear, an Assassin could have easily killed the Emir in his sleep. It's better to break camp...
Today, only ruins beautifully dominates the eastern flank of the coastal massif Jabal Ansariya. In the distance, a raptor lets himself go by air currents and glide quietly. My eyes stare at the remains of an old stone staircase that allowed the “Old man of the mountain” to access his apartments. Penetrating into the hieratic den, a sense of security predominates. From this place he was watching his entire territory, never leaving his bastide.
The patrol path that surrounds the rocky protrusion, the rectangular dungeon and the entrance topped by chews give the visitor a majestic perception of the agora. Despite the heterogeneity of architectural types, I am conquered in front of such defensive homogeneity: every wall, every room, every artery, protects all murderers.
Leaving this strong place, I think about the years ahead: this old lady who faced the biggest armies of the medieval era, still has beautiful annuities ahead of her!
Baudouin, volunteer in Syria