A view of Alamut Castle on top of the hill.

The Secrets of Alamut Castle

One of the most attractive historical tourist destinations in Iran is Alamut Castle. This is a place on the heights of the foothills of Alborz above one of the widest plateaus.

Alamut means eagle’s nest. Hassan Sabah, the leader of the Ismailis, has lived there for 35 years and has led the community from there.

Alamut Castle is located in the northwest of Qazvin province, next to the village of Gaza Khan. The fortress is famous for its association with Hassan Sabbah, the preacher of the  Ismaili religion in the Seljuk period.

Being expelled from the Seljuk court, he went to the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt to learn the principles of the Ismaili religion, and soon became a nobleman that school.

Having returned to Iran, he traveled across the plateau to find a location to build his headquarters. Finally, he identified the Alamut region as a suitable location.

Sabbah died of illness after 35 years of living with his family in Qazvin’s Alamut Castle.

The Significance of the Alamut Castle

If you are a fan of computer games, you must have heard the names of “The Assassins” and “The Prince of Persia” and the trilogy “Sands of Time”. The main story of these games is taken from Hassan Sabbah’s narration and the historic castle of Alamut, which is a popular theme among teenagers.
But why is Hassan Sabbah and the Alamut castle and history so appealing to imaginative and creative teens and video game enthusiasts? In this article, we intend to answer this question more or less.

Alamut Castle is located in the northwest of Qazvin province, next to the village of Gaza khan. The fortress is famous for its name associated with Hassan Sabbah, the preacher of the strange Ismaili religion in the Seljuk period. Hassan Sabbah, after being expelled from Khawaja Nizam Al-Mulk and the Seljuk Shah, went to the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt to learn the principles of the Ismaili religion, and soon became a nobleman in this school. After returning to Iran, he traveled across the plateau to find a location to build his headquarters, and finally identified the Alamut region as a suitable location for this purpose.

Some historians have different ideas about the year of construction of the Alamut, but it is considered to belong to the early Seljuk period. Hassan Sabbah captured this fort in 1049. He paid 2000 gold dinars to the previous owner, who had been forced to sell the castle.

This castle is of special importance among climbers and tourists.They travel to see, take a photo and experience the breathing in the strange atmosphere of the castle.

Presumably, it was the main center of the Assassins until it was invaded by the Mongols. In the end, most of the spaces, including the legendary Sabah Library, were set on fire. This is one of our great regrets; we lost many documents about the secret of Hassan Sabbah, and the Castle.

This castle is known as “Hassan Castle” among the local people. It may be a little surprising to recount some of the mysteries that have formed around this historic castle. But, it is good to learn more about the hidden angles of the Assassins and how they were formed. They were terrifying forces that wanted to take over the world.
Therefore, you need to know, like many animosities, this begins with a friendship which at first seemed immortal. In which, one side is Omar Khayyam, an Iranian poet and astronomer, and the other side is Hassan Sabah, or Nizam-Al-Mulk, the legend that is known as the amazing story of three schoolmates.

The three made a vow at a young age that if each reached a position, they would help the other two. The three schoolmates were Khajeh Nizam, Omar Khayyam and Hassan Sabbah.

The Story behind the Castle

The story of Hassan Sabbah and the castle of Alamut, is a mysterious story. Above all, you may have heard the term schoolmates but do not know who this term refers to, in what period of history?

One of those who wrote a beautiful account of the formation of the epic of the three schoolmates is an English writer and nobleman named Edward Fitzgerald.
For the first time in 1859, he translated a large part of Khayyam’s quatrains into English and wrote in the introduction of the book.

These three were all divided so that whenever one of them came to power, he would help the other two.

As a result, the apple of the covenant tree of this trinity, when it fell, turned in such a way that the first eunuch of Nizam al-Mulk first sat on the ministry bench about the Seljuks.

From left to right: Omar Khayam, Nizam Al-Mulk, Hassan Sabbah

He provided Khayyam with the opportunity to write in his spare time and to pursue his scholarly work. Rumor has it that Hassan Sabbah also reached a position, but having made a dispute, he left the court and position. He went to North Africa and formed a sect that later became known as the Assassins.

The famous slogan is theirs was: “There is no truth and everything is allowed.” So, by instilling that there is no pure reality and that we live in a cold cosmic realm.

Hassan Sabbah instilled in his followers a state of self-awareness and unconsciousness in which they could use maximum violence against Hassan Sabbah’s enemies.

The word hashish means botanist, meaning someone can guide humans to the world of ecstasy, help out with medicinal plants.

They soon became an extremist and irrational anti-social group. They sought to dominate the entire territory of Iran and the Middle East through repeated revenge. So, became known as Fedai during this period. So, they went to the Rafi’i Hills and built a castle, which became known as Alamut Castle. The story later led to the writing of novels, movies, and many video games today. Although there is disagreement about the usefulness of the teachings of these violent video games.

The Mysterious Hassan Sabbah

There are many anecdotes around Hassan Sabbah. He was originally a religious preacher who, with the help of his mystical techniques, created an extremist sect to conquer the world from the mysticism of his knowledge in the realm of Metapsychology and the occult worlds.

He was the founder of the Ismaili government on the plateau of Iran, which is located in the heights between Qazvin and Gillan. With the help of his close allies, he pulled the castle of Alamut out of the hands of the original owner and fortified it.

Hassan had brought his allies from North Africa to take revenge on the Seljuks, specifically on Khawaja Nizam Al-Mulk. He was born in Qom but some believe he was of Kufa descent. In Rey, he studied. Then, he converted to an unknown religion.

One of the great deceivers in history, who created a lot of terror in society by inciting the young people of his time.
His main goal was to fight alongside the poles of power in the Middle East. Including the Seljuks in Iran, the Abbasid Caliphate in Iraq and the Fatimid rule in Egypt. Forming an extremist group of youths known as the Fadais, he began assassinating and terrorizing across the territory, and did not ignore any means to achieve his goals.

Sabbah carried out the assassinations in a dramatic way in front of the eyes of the people. Which had a frightening effect.

Hassan Sabbah is basically one of the founders of guerrilla and sectarian thought in history. He never launched large-scale attacks and always prescribed retaliatory counterattacks on the Fadaiyan.

One of the important characteristics of Sabbah’s personality was his great dependence on reading. He collected a large library of important books and manuscripts at the Castle, and spent most of the day reading.

Alamut Castle
Alamut castle was the place of the Assassins photo via Donya-e-eqtesad.com

Architecture and Ecology

The word Alamut itself means the nest of the eagle. Many British tourists, who have mentioned visiting the castle in their travelogues, regard the castle as a castle of the Gods. They describe it as small as a small village on the outskirts of London or Sheffield.

Alamut Castle has an area of 20,000 square meters. At an altitude of 2100 meters above sea level.

Some Archaeologists initially thought the castle was a prison. However, they discovered traces of important officials’ lives in the edifice.

In the eastern part of the castle, there are ruins that were once animal stalls, reservoirs and rooms.

The Fortress has two upper and lower parts. In both of which, a different opening is made from the other part, and the reason is the condition of the ground and the rocks on which that part is located.

surprisingly, this castle, high on the heights of mount Alamut, has only one entrance. It is located on the eastern side of the castle.
The path to the castle offers you a zigzag mountaineering tour, which in itself is a complete natural and mountaineering tourism.

The architecture of the castle, which is two parts and has an east-west organization. With strong walls, whose curvature and veracity inevitably follow the topography of the red rocky rocks of the mountain in red and burnt brown. Moreover, Alamut Castle originally had four towers, but now three towers remain.

The water was supplied from mountain springs and was reached into the castle space from springs such as Calder spring with a pottery piping system.

The castle has only one entrance in the eastern part. In this part, a tunnel with a length of 6 meters has been dug into the heart of the rocks. Through which you can see the south tower and the south wall of the castle.

The materials used in the construction of this castle are stone and gypsum mortar. It comes with bricks and tiles. Interestingly, pottery has existed in some parts of this castle.

The Alamut Village

The Alamut region itself consists of two parts, western Alamut and eastern Alamut. The climate of this region is mountainous and in some seasons, it is rainy.

The city of Razmian is one of the most important residential centers in western Alamut. It has its own sights and another fortress of Hassan Sabbah is located in it.

The edifice Lambser is an important fort of Hassan Sabbah, located 3 km northeast of Razmian village. The deep valleys of Nineh-rood have taken this fort out of reach. Today, this castle is one of the tourist attractions of Qazvin and Alamut village.

When it is crowded, there is a dynamic space for photos and discussions and historical debates about Hassan Sabbah. In many stories and narratives that have been left about him.

Souvenirs in this area include local bread and cherry jams. You can buy either walnuts or packages of dried cherries.

There are also a variety of local dairy products. Here, pickles have many properties for the treatment of chronic diseases. Handicrafts such as Jajim and needlework are other good souvenirs of the region.
Among the local dishes, we can mention walnut cutlets, turnip soup and pickle soup. It is a pleasure for tourists to try.

Alamut and Sabbah in Modern Literature

The Hashashin’s stories have gotten so popular. Writers such as William Burroughs had an interest in the adventures of Hassan Sabbah. Because they sought the roots of totalitarian and violent military ideas in his mind. Moreover, Jorge Luis Borges has also retold this fascinating and mysterious story in a fiction named Secret.

William Burroughs', Robert Mapplethorpe, 1980 | Tate
William S. Burroughs photo by Robert Mapplethorpe

Final words

As a final point, in the solitude of this region, there is the emptiness of the mountains and silence.

Good weather, healthy food and a historical background all invite you to shape unforgettable memories in this beautiful space.
If you are interested in historical, archaeological tourism with a rich anthropological background, Alamut is an ideal tourist destination for you.

You can safely cross the secluded corner of the inhabited world in the middle of this stunned mountain without anyone disturbing you. From this place, take a historical journey into the fantasy world, wherein some edifices stood on plains and slopes, regardless of a daily routine.

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