The name Alamut means "eagle's nest" – for its position, perched on top of a giant rock – and the strategic importance of its dominant position is clear.
Alamut Valley, beneath the giant peaks of the Alborz Mountains to the north-west of Tehran, is the site of a chain of 50 fortresses. They were built in Mediaeval times and taken over by the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam – currently led by the Aga Khan – and their tough sidekicks, the Assassins.The latter gave their name to a rather robust method of dealing with political enemies. Legend has it they are also the origin of the word hashish. According to legend, they would get high on weed before going on a mission.
The scenery is fabulous and the views from the ramparts are impressive. The 40-minute to climb to the castle this afternoon in 38°C was murder!