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“Homs Citadel”…a miniature of the defensive royal cities

Homs Castle

To learn more about the castle’s history, eSyria’s Watan blog met on 8/12/2012 Mr. Amjad al-Shibli, one of those interested in documenting historical places, who spoke about the castle by saying: “Homs Castle rises from the level of the main road about 32 m, and about 32 m above sea level. 495 AD, and it was surrounded by a defensive trench and the city wall, which extended from Bab al-Turkman in the west, to Bab Sebaa in the south. Unclear landmarks remained from the effects of this wall, until they were removed in order to widen the road around the castle and fill the trench, which was recently converted into a public park. .

The northern foot of the citadel adjacent to the city is steep and almost vertical. The bottom of the castle is natural rock and the top is artificial, while its sides are paved with sheets of black stone, and it looks like the Ayyubid and Mamluk castles built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries AD, of which the Aleppo Citadel is the best example. The remaining one, and its slope surrounded by the moat, is surmounted by square towers, as if it were a royal city, and one of these towers in the northeast is still integrated in its external appearance.”

Regarding the castle’s history, he adds: “Many historians and anthropologists believe that the oldest site in which housing originated in “Homs” is Tell Homs (the current location of the castle), and studies conducted on the surface pottery finds discovered in the lower layers of the hill proved that the site was Inhabited in the second half since the third millennium BC, and the current hill on which the castle is located is supposed to be buried within its layers, ancient Homs before its expansion outside the boundaries of the hill during the Roman era.

He continues: “With the conquest of the city of Homs by the Romans and the arrival of Julia Domna, the daughter of the priest of the Sun Temple to the throne of the Roman Empire, Homs expanded from a circular wall around the hill to a city with the shape of a rectangle 1400-999 BC, and submitted to the classical plan of the Hellenistic Roman cities.

During the period extending from the descent of the population from the hill until the spread of Christianity, Tel Homs became unique in being a sacred place of worship in the form of the “Acropolis” of the new city (the administrative and religious center of the ancient cities).

The establishment of the temple on the hill was confirmed, when a stone of harsh limestone was found, 57 cm high, with a base rib of 30 cm. The following was inscribed in its center in the ancient Greek script: “Offering from Maiduls son of Golasses – meaning the sun god “Elagabal” – this altar Thanks.” But after the spread of Christianity and the elimination of paganism, the hill began to turn, especially in the Byzantine era, into a military fortress.

With regard to the details of the castle: “The castle of Homs appears from the inside as if it were a miniature royal city, with houses of residence, warehouses, a mosque, and everything necessary for the residence and defense of the ruler, his entourage, and the garrison of the base. Stone says, “He ordered that Shirkuh bin Muhammad built it in the year five hundred and ninety-four.”

It seems that Shirkuh is more than fortifying the castle and taking care of it because of the long period of his rule, which extended to 45 years. Ibn Nazif al-Hamawi, author of the book “Al-Tarikh al-Mansouri,” says: “In it, the Mujahid Sultan, the owner of Homs, began digging the castle trench, expanding it and protecting it. Because it is one of the Islamic frontiers that is delegated to its immunity, and before that the Citadel of Homs was also a small improvised force, so he built it, enlarged it and fortified it.”

The Citadel Mosque, which was also called the Sultan Mosque, was famous for containing a copy of the Ottoman Qur’an sent by Othman bin Affan to Homs. Until it was captured by “Jamal Pasha Al-Saffah” and transferred to Constantinople.

He adds: “In the Ottoman era, the role of castles diminished, due to the discovery of firearms, especially artillery, which were adopted by the Ottomans. However, Homs Castle remained a strategic center for nursing the garrison cannons, and at a later period the current entrance to the castle was split from the west, in order to withdraw the cannons to it, and the cannons fired to it.

The Citadel The Egyptian campaign led by “Ibrahim Pasha” woes, so he decided upon entering Homs to sabotage the fort’s facilities and ordered that the basalt layer be removed from its roofs to be used in the construction of the military depot “Al-Dabweya”, a perverted word from French and meaning warehouse.

The municipality of Homs completed the task in 1911, when its president, Ibrahim al-Atassi, uprooted the remaining basalt stones from the slopes of the citadel and built warehouses with them in the eastern part of the silo, which was used as a warehouse for liquid fuels (Kazakhana), and these stores still exist today.

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