The citadel of Hasbaya in southern Lebanon is an interesting place to see despite its dismal external condition with diverse architecture – Crusader, Arab and even Italian – but of which we retain a certain charm.

Today, the building is 150 meters long and 100 meters wide for a total area of 20,000 square meters on several levels.

Built on the basis of an 11th century crusader castle of which we will see some elements that have remained present despite many changes such as the walls of a thickness in places of a meter and a half, the south tower or some other medieval elements of a defensive nature. Among the remains of the cross building, the front door will be redesigned and displays the heraldic symbols of the Chehab family – 2 lions and a plaque commemorating the setting of the fortress by Emir Ali Chehab.

Hasbaya. Photo credit: François el Bacha, all rights reserved

The black legend of the Crusader Castle indicates that the latter would have buried the heads of prisoners in the dungeons which are now inaccessible following a decision by the General Directorate of Antiquities. From these same dungeons, 2 tunnels provide access to the river located to the north, below the building and on the other side towards the nearby Mosque. The strategic interest of this castle lay in its location.

Among the inhabitants of this citadel, the wife of Bachir Chéhab II was distinguished by the architecture of the Diwan that she set up with stones which alternate black and white blocks. The passage also on these places in 1838 of the Pasha of Egypt Ibrahim Bacha left a certain imprint. Other buildings served as stud farms, residential complexes and even a mosque. Mamluk and Ottoman elements are added to these additions.

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