Saudi Arabia is full of monuments and tourist attractions, but Shamsan Fort is particularly fun as it takes you back to a 100-year-old era.
The castle, located northeast of the city of Abha (Asir region in the southwest of the Kingdom), carries the heritage and tourist dimensions, especially after its rehabilitation to be a window on an era of the region’s history, and an architectural landmark for traditional architecture.
The castle built with its last design more than 100 years ago on the top of Mount Shamsan, which is about 2200 meters above sea level, so it was the main gate of the city of Abha and the first line of defense for the city in successive periods of time.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Mahfouz bin Saeed Al-Zahrani indicates in his book “The Fortifications of the City of Abha in the Period 1288 – 1337 AH” that the total area of the castle is about 5389 square meters.
The castle has an uneven rocky ground, its layout takes on an irregular shape, and in the north corner of the castle there is a circular tower.
The entrance to the castle is located in the middle of the southwestern wall overlooking the city of Abha, and the entrance leads to a covered corridor on which two rooms open on its right and left sides dedicated to the guards.
Dr. Al-Zahrani confirms the distinction of the coverage system in this castle using flat roofs, indicating that “they are wooden beams of juniper tree trunks that widely spread in the western forests of the Asir Mountains, and the lengths of these beams vary according to the width of one room of the castle.”
In his field study of the site around 2005, Al-Zahrani showed that the castle consists of walls surrounding it from the four sides, and the castle rooms based on it, and the façade of the western wall overlooking the city of Abha and the western quarter of the façade of the northern wall covered with a layer of plaster, in order to give it an aesthetic shape, in addition to that the plaster helps the cohesion of the stones, and the height of these walls varies from one side to the other depending on the topography of the land built on them.
The researcher monitors the method of construction in the castle, starting with cutting granite stones of different sizes, then stacking them in a simple way, forming the two sides of the wall from the inside and outside.
It then appears in the form of asymmetrical madamiks, with the space filled when the faces of the stones between the madamik are uneven, by cutting small stones in the form of light flakes that take the form of layers in that space and locally called “kohl”.
When building each midmac, it taken into account to fill the space between the two sides of the wall with small stones and clay, which works to fill the gap between the stones on the one hand and their cohesion on the other.
Dr. Al-Zahrani believes that the courtyard of the castle contained a ground water tank in which rainwater collected that fell on the city of Abha in most seasons of the year, to provide the castle with the necessary water, in addition to the presence of wells rich in groundwater on the banks of the Abha valley, part of which located at the bottom of the mountain built at the top of the castle.