Adventure Group Tours

Dwin Castle in Iraq • Saladin’s mountain fortress


There are those kinds of places that are able to trigger our inner adventure instincts. You know, those places we get so hypnotically focused on exploring that we somehow lose the sense of time and space. Welcome to the idyllic Dwin Castle, located in a mountainous region at about 60km northeast of Erbil, in Northern Iraq.

It was a rainy morning when I went out of Erbil and heading towards Rawanduz. I somehow felt that due to the weather, the day would not be enjoyable.

On the map, I had pinpointed two castles, which I almost took out to go straight to Rawanduz and skip the dark, cloudy day. But, I was already driving on a secondary road, and going back to the main road would take me back to Erbil, so I ended up following the morning travel plan. The first surprise was the Dera Fort, with a beautiful view over the surrounding low mountains.

But further north the road, everything changed when I arrived at Dwin Castle. As the rain got stronger I just couldn’t believe my eyes, of such an impressive beauty, that made me go and explore this fantastic ancient site. The encircling landscapes are amazing.


Dwin Castle is supposed to have belonged to Jalaluddin, the grandfather of the famous Saladin, who amassed an enormous Muslim army to fight the European Crusaders out of the Levant.”

Saladin sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, and Yemen. In 1187 and under his leadership, his forces subjugated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, leading the way to the capture of Palestine and Jerusalem.

The castle was built on a high place that covers an area of land of a one-square-kilometer. The date of its construction goes back to the Principality of Soran somewhere around the 10th century when it was set to be the princedom’s capital. From this fact comes the name Dwin which means “the capital”.

Dwin Castle turns out to be a significant Kurdish historic site in Northern Iraq where we can still visit three old lookout towers, elements of the outline wall, various door frames, and a cemetery.

Having the possibility of exploring the hometown and castle of Saladin Ayoubi is quite interesting historically. Near the castle, there is a peculiar graveyard, with unusual tombstones. One of the graves is said to be one of Saladin’s wives.

The easy way to visit Dwin Castle is to go on an Iraq Kurdistan Region Tour with the fortress included on its 12-day itinerary around the northern part of Iraq.

The surrender of Jerusalem to Salahuddin

Photos of Dwin Castle

NOTE: I’ve been to Iraq three times. The first time back in 2010, the second time at the beginning of 2016, and the third time just recently in 2018 traveling for one month driving my campervan. Throughout recent years, Iraq has become safer, and there are many areas that can be visited without any issues. If you think you’d like to make such a trip, check out RJ Travel‘s available Iraqi Kurdistan Tour Packages.