Stronghold on the road to Damascus


This stronghold, resting on the flanks of Mt Hermon, protected the road to Damascus. It is known popularly as Nimrod’s Fortress or Qal'at al-Subeiba (“Cliff castle”). The site was hastily erected in the 1220s to prevent the European Crusaders from a return to the region.

The fears were unfounded. The Crusaders did not return and despite the adaption of the latest technologies in this medieval slugfest between East and West, the fortress was never used as a point of active defense.

I set our students free to explore the site on their own. Naturally the adventurous ones headed straight for the keep, the inner stronghold on the highest point of the ridge pictured here.

We know that Saul of Tarsus was converted along the famous “road to Damascus,” but it is unknown where the event described in Acts 9 (see here) took place.


The residency program of Johnson University leads to a Master of Strategic Ministry degree. It involves a collaborative relationship between Johnson University and local churches. This accredited program equips students for effective, strategic Christian leadership and includes a study-tour to Israel/Palestine.

To learn more about residencies, see the link here.

You would bounce a few times

Bill Weber checks out the steep slope falling off the side of Qal'at al-Subeiba, appropriately named the "Castle of the Large Cliff." This castle, located on the shoulders of Mt Hermon in occupied Syria (or the "Golan Heights") is actually an anti-Crusader castle. It was thrown together hastily by Al-Aziz 'Uthman in the 1230s (AD) to protect "the road to Damascus" from a Crusader return. The return of the Europeans never materialized. Three decades later, the Mongols took it. After being briefly used as a Turkish prison, it fell into disrepair. A few tourists like Bill still visit the site (I shot this in 2005) and likely remember it by the name "Nimrod's Castle."