The Nimrod Fortress is one of the greatest, most impressive, and most well-preserved castles in Israel. It sits on a hilltop in the Golan in the northern tip of Israel, near Lebanon. It was named after Nimrod, the mighty hunter mentioned in Genesis 10:8-9. According to tradition, Nimrod dwelt where the castle stands today. In Hebrew, it is known as Qal’at Namrud, and in Arabic as Kal’at al-Subeiba.
The Nimrod Fortress is a less-popular tourist site due to its location and the lack of biblical events that happened there. However, it is well-worth a visit! The view is amazing, the castle’s architecture is one-of-a-kind in Israel, and the excitement of exploring the towers’ winding staircases and secret passageway is thrilling.
The Nimrod Fortress is situated on the ancient Roman trade route from Damascus to Tiberius; it was built specifically to guard and control traffic on this main road. The fortress towers above the surrounding valleys at about 2,700 ft. (820 m.) above sea level. To its north is the Guveta stream, and to its south is the Sa’ar stream. Today, the Nimrod Fortress is preserved by a National Park.
The Nimrod Fortress is long and skinny. It is roughly 150 meters wide and 420 meters long. There is a mapped route designed for visitors, complete with descriptive plaques for significant structures and objects. The fortress has multiple towers along its wall, each serving a unique purpose. There is a water reservoir (that holds water to this day) in an arched room, and a secret passageway leading up through the outer section of the north wall. Multiple staircases, rooms, and arches can be found throughout the fortress, along with Arabic inscriptions.
The Crusaders’ goal, when they arrived in Galilee in 1099, was to defeat the Arabs and conquer Damascus; taking the Nimrod Fortress was necessary in order to complete this goal. In 1129, the Arabs gave the fortress to the Crusaders under treaty. The Crusaders fortified it, but lost it to the Arabs in 1164. The majority of the fortress see today was fortified as this time by the Arab ruler Al-Aziz Uthman, Saladin’s son, in 1230.
In 1260, the fortress was conquered by the Mongols, who were defeated by Mamelukes that year. In 1517, the Ottomans overtook the fortress, and in the 18th century it suffered great earthquake damage, leaving it in ruins ever since. Then, in 1967, when Israel conquered the Golan, the fortress’ National Park was established, and visitors have enjoyed it ever since.