On Sunday it was time for a trip to the south to visit the infamous Beaufort Castle I had heard so much about. My first time going south of Beirut certainly was an interesting one.
Beaufort Castle is a Crusader castle that has been around since the 12th century and has proved to be a strategic tool, overlooking both the south of Lebanon and the north of Israel/Palestine, to armies and conquerors since it was built. It was destroyed in 1982 in the Battle of Beaufort, when the IDF overthrew the PLO, the current occupiers, in one of the first battles of the 1982 Lebanon War. The Israeli army did not leave the site until 2000 and you can still see remnants of their occupation in the nearby bunkers they built.
Though in ruins, you can see efforts being made to restore parts of the castle. We heard rumors from some fellow visitors that the government might be making plans to convert the castle to a museum, which I think is a horrible idea. Beaufort is so out of the way that you would have to know where it is and at least know a little about its history before making the trek out there. A museum would completely reduce the impact of seeing the crumbled old walls and imagining how so many people fought and died there for a cause.
The views from the castle are also spectacular. The area immediately surrounding it is so undeveloped and from the very top you can see radio towers and villages in the neighboring Palestine (which the other people there pointed out to me, otherwise I would not have been able to tell what the hell I was looking at). Climbing around the castle to the very tops of the old walls was fun (actually, climbing anything is fun), with an element of danger thrown in when you look over the edge and see only sharp rocks and a sheer drop for the next couple hundred feet below you.
I would have loved to visit at sunset, but our day’s schedule just didn’t allow for it (and some people had exams to study for, that sucks). I had to settle for the midday sun beating down mercilessly in a cloudless sky and a nice breeze.