Situation and characteristicsThe Crusader castle of Montfort, 14km/8.5mi east of Nahariya, is the largest ruin in western Galilee.The castle can be reached only on foot, by either of two routes. One runs from the Goren Natural Forest, near the kibbutz of Elon (on the road going east from Rosh Haniqra close to the Lebanese frontier) and comes in 3km/2mi to the castle (descent of 130m/427ft). The other starts from Mi'ilya, a village of Christian Arabs on the Nahariya-Safed road; 3km/2mi north of this on a motorable road is a parking-place, from which it is a half-hour walk on a stony path running down through a wood (descent 250m/820ft). The castle stands on a spur of rock above the deep cleft of the Wadi Quren.HistoryThe castle was built by Comte Joscelin de Courtenay in the 12th century to protect Acre. In 1187 it was destroyed by Saladin; then in 1220 Hermann von Salza, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, acquired the ruins with the idea of making the castle the Grand Master's residence. In 1271 the Teutonic Knights surrendered the castle to the Mameluke Sultan Baibars on the promise of free passage with their archives and the treasury of the Order. Since then the castle, which is known to the Arabs as Qalat Quren, has been abandoned. In 1926 the ruins were investigated by a team from the Metropolitan Museum in New York; finds from the site (capitals, a carved head) are in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. There are still substantial remains of the castle, since its remoteness saved it from being used as a quarry of building stone.
The castle of Montfort, on a site which rises from east to west, was surrounded by a wall reinforced by square and round towers. The entrance is near the southwest corner. The most vulnerable part of the castle was the west end, which was given extra protection by a deep ditch and, beyond this, a massive tower, linked with the main castle by a drawbridge.From one of the towers, still preserved to its original height of 18m/60ft, there is an impressive view of the wooded country round the castle, traversed by the rushing stream in the deep valley below. In the river-bed are remains of a dam, and on the banks is a ruined mill built by the Knights.
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