Alamut Valley & Castle of the Assassins

Don’t these names, the Alamut Valley & the Castle of the Assassins conjure up some kind of dramatic image? To me they sound so exotic and exciting. I had been looking forward to visiting them since I first arrived in Iran, but I had to wait to the last couple of weeks as we started in the south of the country and this area is in the north.

We hired a local couchsurf host who couldn’t host us but helped us find a hotel and then offered his services as a driver, to drive us from Qazvin, through the Alamut valley stopping at some fabulous sights, then back to Qazvin again.

First of many stunning mountain views, Alamut Valley.

First of many stunning mountain views, Alamut Valley.

We had only one day in our plans to do this day trip so I was really hoping for fine weather… and we sure got it! The views were stunning and we couldn’t have been happier.

Views from the car, Alamut Valley.

Views from the car, Alamut Valley.

Our first stop was the very small Evan Lake which had a beautiful mountain backdrop and what we in NZ call toitoi around the edges of the lake. It reminded me of home.

Lake

Evan Lake

The views were gorgeous all the way along the valley, in every direction.

Alamut Valley day-trip.

Alamut Valley day-trip.

Next stop was the Alamut Castle also known as the Castle of the Assassins. It has this name because the Nizari Ismailis (an Islamic sect that split from Ismailism, itself a branch of Shia Islam) who developed this fort on the hill 900 or so years ago were known as the Assassins.  Wikipedia has a nice intro I will borrow to introduce the history of this area:

‘In 1090 CE, Hassan Sabbah, the leader of Ismailites in Iran, chose the Alamut region as his headquarters to campaign, preach and convert new followers. This proved to be a turning point for the destiny of Alamut Valley. The result of over two centuries of Ismailite stronghold, the region witnessed numerous castles throughout, of which at least 20 “castles“ dating back to this era have been identified. The most magnificent castle in the Alamut Valley is the Alamut Castle, which is built on top of a high rock reaching 2163 m above sea level near the Gazor Khan Village. The rock is 200 m high and covers an area of 20 hectares (49 acres); with its steep slope and deep and dangerous ravine, the rock is practically inaccessible and forms a part of the fort’s structure. Currently, only ruins of the fort and some towers are apparent, and it is only through archaeological excavation that the main portions can be discovered.’

Top: Looking down from the Alamut Castle. Bottom: Looking up at the rock the castle was built on.

Top pic: Looking down from the Alamut Castle. Bottom pic: Looking up at the rock the castle was built on.

This place was really cool. 🙂 We walked up to the top taking in incredible views in all directions. The hillside opposite the rock & castle was so gorgeous- all multicoloured… and the path leading up to the castle looked like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Hill opposite Alamut Castle.

Hill opposite Alamut Castle.

Tolkeinesque steps on the right leading to Alamut Castle.

Tolkeinesque steps on the right leading to Alamut Castle.

There wasn’t a lot to see of the castle at the top, some excavations, a few remains of things, like the water reservoir, the tunnel used both as a connecting passageway and a look out, etc. But the views were 360 degrees sensational!

Top: Alamut Castle ruins, (L) in the tunnel, (R) ruins of a water reservoir.

Top: Alamut Castle ruins, (L) in the tunnel, (R) remains of a water reservoir.

After exploring the Alamut Castle we headed along the road that leads to Andej, through a very picturesque valley with red-rock canyons and cliffs, fascinating rock formations, caves and peace and quiet. If we are lucky enough to be able to return to this part of Iran we would love to camp in this area for a few days and explore more. This time we had to settle for a quick look around and a picnic by the river before returning to Qazvin.

Red rocks valley

Red-rock canyons.

Cool rock formations by the river.

Cool rock formations by the river.

Spring visit

Spring in Iran 🙂

 

 

1 Comment

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *