Home DestinationsAsia The Alamut Castle, a place to witness history and nature

The Alamut Castle, a place to witness history and nature

Alamut Castle

by Parastoo Sahebi
12 minutes read
alamut castle

The Alamut Castle is a living and real historical museum. It belongs to the 5th century AH (Islamic calendar) and served as a strong fortress for Hasan Sabbah and his companions. Hasan Sabbah was originally the founder of the Ismaili state. He was completely opposed to the Seljuks and gained great fame through his numerous military activities. The Alamut Castle is a frozen piece of history that, while alive, has fallen into a deep sleep. By stepping into its heart, this fortress will take you to a past that belongs to all of us. Our journey and wandering today revolve around The Alamut Castle.

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The Alamut Castle and everything you need to know about it

The Alamut Castle is a part of Iran that represents the Ismaili sect and brings the name of Hasan Sabbah to life in our minds. Hasan Sabbah was a person who lived in this castle for 35 years and took on a full-fledged struggle as a leader. However, according to the documents available during the Safavid era, this castle served as a prison. Research also indicates that The Alamut Castle, alongside all its roles, was considered a very prestigious place of residence for individuals with high social status. The area of this castle is 20,000 square meters, and in 2002, the Iranian government registered it as a national heritage site.

This castle is situated on a completely rocky cliff, and steps have been embedded in the entrance road for the convenience of visitors. Most tourists sit on platforms or the ground upon reaching the entrance of this castle to rest and catch their breath. A sign at the entrance introduces Hasan Sabbah and also addresses him as the Lord of Death. Currently, the entire castle is covered with tarpaulins, and additional explanations have been added in some parts. However, entry to some of the inner sections of the castle is not possible. Due to its location, this castle offers a beautiful landscape for photography. From the location of this castle, you can see the Andaj River, the vast Gazorkhan plain, and the Valley of Death.


Access to the Alamut Castle

The beautiful Castle of Death is located atop a 2,163-meter-high rocky cliff. This castle is located in the northeastern part of Gazorkhan village and precisely in the Alamut region of Qazvin city. To access this castle, you have a very winding and twisting path ahead of you. You must walk for about an hour to reach this magnificent castle. However, if you plan to visit The Alamut Castle in the spring season, we must inform you that the surrounding scenery is unparalleled. It should be noted that the steps can be somewhat challenging to pass. But exactly after 45 minutes of hiking, you will reach a part of Iran’s history and culture, which is The Alamut Castle.

Address: Qazvin Province, Moallem Kalaye, northeastern part of Gazorkhan village.

If you intend to travel from Tehran to Qazvin and visit The Alamut Castle, you should know that the distance between this castle and Tehran is approximately 4 hours or 240 kilometers. Also, if you have been to Qazvin before, you know that a distance of 105 kilometers is ahead of you, which takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to travel. In the end, you can have a pleasant ascent to The Alamut Castle, which shines like a gem on the crown of this rocky mountain.

Alamut Castle

Building the Alamut Castle and its Interpretation

An interesting point to note about The Alamut Castle is that it overlooks a valley from all four sides. For this reason, it has only one entrance embedded in the northeast side and at the end of this edge. Its construction was meticulously planned due to the defensive and strategic structure of the castle. In ancient times, they used to protect castles and valleys by building watchtowers and digging ditches around them.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning the name of this castle, which is formed from two parts, “al” and “amut.” “Al” means “eagle” or “god” and essentially signifies “eagle,” while “amut” means “learning.” According to various accounts, the ruler of the Dailami dynasty gained knowledge of this location through an eagle and decided to build a castle there. He named it the “Ašyāne-ye ʿuqāb” (Nest of the Eagle). Some people also believe that “amut” in the Gilaki language and among the people of Dailam means “learning.” In essence, the phrase “al-amut” means “eagle’s learning.” Ibn Athir interprets this word as “teaching the eagle.”


A Brief History of the Alamut Castle

It is mentioned in history that after leaving the court of Malikshah Seljuk, Hasan Sabbah traveled to Egypt to learn the principles of the Ismaili religion. After returning from Egypt, he traveled throughout Iran to find a suitable place for his activities and eventually settled in The Alamut Castle. When Hasan Sabbah captured the castle in 486 AH, he paid an equivalent of 3,000 dinars to the ruler as compensation.

The fortress was conquered by Hasan Sabbah and his activities there were primarily related to military security. Years later, in 654 AH, the castle was conquered by the Mongols led by Hulagu. He set fire to its library, and afterward, The Alamut Castle became a place of exile. In the following years, the Ismailis once again captured the castle but did not maintain control for long. During the Safavid period, the fortress became a political prison.

During the Qajar era, This Castle was also demolished, and its bricks were used for construction purposes. Greedy individuals digging for treasure caused severe damage to this castle. Archaeologists previously believed that the castle was merely a prison, but over time, it became evident that individuals with high social ranks and fame lived in this place.


Unique Architecture of the Castle

In other words, The Alamut Castle consists of two sections, the Upper Castle and the Lower Castle. The walls of this castle were built entirely by the rock formations. Therefore, the width of the walls varies significantly in different parts. From a distance, this castle resembles a sleeping camel. It is 120 meters long and has a width ranging from 10 to approximately 35 meters. The materials used in its construction include bricks, stones, tiles, clay coatings, gypsum mortar, and wooden beams.

Alamut Castle

Construction of the Alamut Castle

This castle had four towers, of which three towers remain intact on the southern, eastern, and northern sides. The only entrance to this castle is precisely located at the end of the northeastern corner and slightly below the eastern tower. In front of you is a tunnel carved through the rocks, measuring 6 meters in length and 2 meters in width.

The height of this tunnel is estimated to be 2 meters, allowing tourists to easily observe the southwestern wall of the castle and the southern tower by passing through it. On the southern side, there is a room within the rocks, which was probably designed for guards. Additionally, two rooms are located in the northwest section, with a small water well embedded in one of the rooms. In the eastern section, there is a place for the residence of guards and their families.

While there are several stables for animals, as well as three small water reservoirs and several rooms in the eastern section, most of them have now been destroyed. The water reservoirs of this castle are among the most interesting water reservoirs in Iran. The water supply system is provided by using underground tunnels from a spring located in the northern part of the castle.


A Sweet Stay in Alamut

For a pleasant stay in Alamut, you first have to go to the village of Moalem Kalayeh to enjoy the beautiful gardens and charming nature and then make your way to Alamut. Moalem Kalayeh is located between Lake Avan and Alamut Castle, 9 kilometers from Alamut Castle and 19 kilometers from Lake Avan. Some residents in this area have built suites and small accommodations that tourists can rent for a charming stay in the area.

The nearby village of Gazorkhan, which is considered one of the closest areas to Alamut, also has accommodations and suites available for rent. However, the tranquility of Moalem Kalayeh village is something else. Furthermore, the surrounding villages of Alamut have also established numerous eco-lodges that offer a unique experience alongside delicious and captivating local cuisine. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, the Novizar Hotel in the village of Garmarud Sina is a suitable option. The distance between this hotel and Alamut Castle is only 20 kilometers.

Best Time to Travel to Alamut and Necessary Equipment

Considering the mountainous location of Alamut Castle, it is important to note that this area is extremely cold. Therefore, it is best to choose the end of spring and the beginning of summer as the time to visit Alamut Castle. During this time, the weather in this area is very moderate, and you will thoroughly enjoy your trip. Additionally, nature is lush and vibrant, and you will be greeted with breathtaking views in this region.

It’s worth noting that even in summer, Alamut has very cool nights. So be sure to bring enough warm clothing with you. For long walks and hikes to reach the castle, it is essential to use sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, drinking water, suitable footwear, and warm clothing. Finally, a camera is also among the necessary equipment for a trip to Alamut Castle, as it can capture unforgettable images for you. It’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella or raincoat as there is a slight chance of rain.

Alamut Castle

Sights Around the Castle

If you have decided to travel to Alamut, it’s a good idea to enjoy the sights around it as well. Lake Avan is one of the very pleasant attractions near this castle. Alongside its untouched and pristine nature, it can be another point of interest in the Alamut region. The lake is located 75 kilometers away from Qazvin city and is close to Alamut Castle, making it a possible next destination for your visit. Most tourists who come to this area usually camp around Lake Avan and experience an extraordinary stay. The beautiful village of Avan is another attraction in this region, with numerous diverse and traditional eco-lodges available. Don’t miss out on the delicious local cuisine during your trip to Alamut.

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See Alamut for an Unforgettable Experience

In this article, we have mentioned the beauties of Alamut Castle and its surrounding environment. However, in recent years, this castle has suffered significant neglect. Erosion caused by rain, wind, and sun exposure, along with numerous excavations in search of hidden treasures, has accelerated its destruction. It’s worth noting that at one point, there was a library with 400,000 reference and handwritten books in this castle, which unfortunately caught fire during the Mongol invasion and was destroyed. Nevertheless, if you decide to travel to Qazvin, it is recommended to reach the heights of Alamut Castle at least once. From up there, you can witness the grandeur of history and the endless silence of Alamut Castle.



  1. What is Alamut Castle?

Alamut Castle is a historical fortress located in the Alborz Mountains of Iran. It gained fame as the stronghold of the medieval Nizari Ismaili sect, also known as the Assassins. It served as their headquarters and played a significant role in their activities during the 11th and 12th centuries.

  1. How old is Alamut Castle?

This Castle dates back to the 9th century, with its construction attributed to the Buyid dynasty. However, its prominence rose during the Nizari Ismaili period in the 11th century when it became a crucial center of power and intrigue.

  1. What is the significance of Alamut Castle?

This Castle holds significant historical and cultural importance. It was a strategic fortress that played a key role in the Nizari Ismaili movement, which had a unique religious and political ideology. The castle’s location atop a high rocky peak made it nearly impregnable, symbolizing the power and determination of the Nizari Ismailis.

  1. Can visitors explore this Castle?

Yes, Alamut Castle is open to visitors. However, it’s important to note that the castle is now in ruins, and only its remnants remain. Visitors can explore the ruins, climb to the top of the castle, and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It’s advisable to hire a local guide for a better understanding of the castle’s history and significance.

  1. How can one reach Alamut Castle?

This castle is located in the Qazvin Province of Iran. The nearest town is the village of Gazorkhan. To reach the castle, one needs to travel to Gazorkhan and then hike or hire a local guide to navigate the mountainous terrain leading to the castle. The journey requires stamina and appropriate hiking gear, as the trail can be challenging but rewarding for adventure enthusiasts.

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