Last update:
3 November 2009
15 Thu AlQe'da 1430

The Tripoli Citadel

(Includes Bani Aammar, AlFath AlOthmani, and Barbar Agha Mosques)

Tripoli > History > The Tripoli Citadel

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Please send your comments, suggestions, or contributions to: Dr. Ghazi Omar Tadmouri.

In Brief

Overlooking the city is the imposing citadel of Tripoli with its walls gazing down on the Abou Ali River. The citadel has been renovated and changed many times during its history. Today, the castle's main features are an octagonal Fatimid construction converted to a church by the Crusaders, some Crusader structures of the 12th-13th centuries, a number of 14th century Mamluke additions, as well as additions made by the Ottomans in the 16th century.

At present, the Tripoli Citadel is made up of four floors and is 130 meters long and 70 meters wide. The citadel includes an old hammam (public bath), three prayer houses, a jail, a stable for horses, halls for the commanders and important officials, large halls (for the soldiers, ammunition, and artillery), wells, water reservoirs, basins, graveyards, large open spaces for military exercises and parades, and more than 100 rooms of different dimensions. The citadel also includes 10 gates down in its walls, some of which open towards the "Abou Ali" river while the others lead to the bazaars in the old city. The towers of the citadel are 15-20 meters high and include several cannon windows. The wall of the citadel is 2 meters wide and overlooks Tripoli, the "Mina" (harbor), the islands, and the route to Beirut as well as that to Homs (in Syria). The eastern wall faces a charming natural amphitheater of grand dimensions composed of the Cedars Mountains and the "Kadisha" canyon. The Tripoli Citadel also overlooks the "Takiyyat alDaraweesh alMawlawiyah", located some 200 meters western to the citadel.

(Click here to listen to Arabic real audio comments of Prof. Omar Tadmouri concerning common misconceptions about the history of the citadel of Tripoli).


Date of Construction

The Tripoli Citadel is one of the largest and oldest military fortresses in Lebanon. It was founded by the Arab commander "Sufyan ben Mujib alAzdi" in 636 CE. Later on, the Fatimids constructed a mosque inside it during the 11th century CE. The commander and Count of Toulouse "Raymond of Saint-Gilles" enlarged the fortress in 1103 CE. When the Mameluke Prince Seyfedeen Asandamor Kourji ruled Tripoli state (698-709 H/CE 1299-1309), prosperous constructions emerged in all directions in the city of Tripoli. He widened the Fort and changed it to a big castle in 707 H/CE 1307 by building some towers inside. The Ottoman Sultan "Selim ben Selim the First" commissioned the construction of the northern tower that includes the main gate of the citadel. The present state of this large fortress is largely the result of extensive restoration work by Mustapha Barbar Agha, governor of Tripoli at the beginning of the 19th century.

In his book, Nouwairi, the historian, wrote: "The Prince Saif Eldeen Asandamor Kourji Mansouri was appointed as Sultan representative till 709 H. ... He ...built part of the castle and constructed towers. The castle was near the Sultan house in Tripoli. Asandamor became a powerful ruler and many of his Mamelukes were appointed as princes"


Additional Notes

Dar Saadeh was built inside Tripoli castle, later on it was moved to Bab Hadeed district at the beginning of the road leading to the castle at the eastern side of Ouwaysieh mosque.

The citizens of Tripoli claim that an underground tunnel may be present starting from the castle and reaching Prince Barsbay Nassiri tower at the coast (El-Mina), thus extending over a distance of around two miles. However, this was not assured by the written historical sources. Certainly, many secret tunnels do exist between the castle and the inner markets, in Mahatra, Aattareen districts, Samak ascent, Bab Hadeed and Taht Sibat roads. Some of them were discovered lately. Click here to listen to an Arabic real audio file about this issue.


Bani Aammar Mosque
  • Location: Within the Tripoli Citadel
  • Commissioned by: One of the Princes of Bani Aammar alKetamiyyin
  • Date of construction: Sometime in the 5th century H/11th century CE
  • Historical period: Fatimid
  • Characteristics: It is the oldest Islamic monument in Tripoli and is one of two other mosques present in the fortress. It is characterized by its octagonal shape with traces of a minaret nearby. The Crusades destroyed the mihrab (sanctuary) and converted the mosque to a church. The ceiling is demolished.
Bani Aammar Mosque
Closer view of Bani Aammar Mosque.

AlFat'h AlOthmani Mosque
  • Location: Within the Tripoli Citadel
  • Commissioned by: The Minister Mustafa ben Iskender Pasha alKhenjarli
  • Date of construction: 924 H/1518 CE
  • Historical period: Ottoman
  • Characteristics: The features of AlFath alOthmani Mosque changed with time. The minaret was demolished. It used to be taller than the towers of the citadel. It needs reconstruction.

Barbar Agha Mosque
  • Location: Within the Tripoli Citadel
  • Commissioned by: The Governor of Tripoli Mustafa Agha Barbar
  • Date of construction: 1286 H/1802 CE
  • Historical period: Ottoman
  • Characteristics: The ceiling and walls are demolished. The marble blocks of its mihrab (sanctuary) was stolen as well as the marble tile on which there was the inscription commemorating the date of its construction. It needs restoration.
Photo Album
The Tripoli Citadel


The Tripoli Citadel

The Tripoli Citadel

The Tripoli Citadel

The Tripoli Citadel by night

The Tripoli Citadel by night

The Tripoli Citadel

Barbar Agha Mosque in the citadel
Barbar Agha Mosque in the citadel. In the center, note the mihrab of the mosque.

Inscription noting the date of construction of the Barbar Agha Mosque in the citadel
Inscription noting the date of construction of the Barbar Agha Mosque in the citadel

Bani Aammar Mosque
Aerial photo of the Tripoli Citadel showing the location of Bani Aammar Mosque.

A view from the inside of the citadel
The portal of AlFath alOthmani Mosque (Right).

The main portal of the Tripoli Citadel

Aerial view of the main portal of the Tripoli Citadel

The main portal of the Tripoli Citadel

The main portal of the Tripoli Citadel

The main portal of the Tripoli Citadel

A stone with architectural motifs

The secondary entrance of the citadel Some of the remaining ancient stones at the entrance of the citadel

A sacrophage at the entrance of the citadel A view from the inside of the citadel

A view from the inside of the citadel

A view from the inside of the citadel A view from the inside of the citadel

A view from the inside of the citadel

A window overlooking Tripoli

A cannon overlooking modern Tripoli from its citadel

The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside

The Tripoli Citadel: A windows overlooking the Qobbeh district

The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside

Remainings of Khan alManzel stored at the Citadel The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside

The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside

The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside The Tripoli Citadel: A view from the inside

One of the halls at the Tripoli Citadel One of the halls at the Tripoli Citadel

One of the stables at the Citadel

Canon stones remaining at the citadel

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