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The Secrets of Kerak Castle: A Guide to the Most Fascinating Crusader Fortress

Jun 2
If you're fascinated with history, visiting ancient castles must be on your bucket list. And when it comes to castles that carry historical significance, the Kerak Castle should be on the top. Nestled in the heart of Jordan, Kerak Castle is a remarkable symbol of the Crusader period. The castle's rich history is impressive and interesting, with many secrets waiting to be discovered. Kerak Castle is an unmissable attraction for any history buff, from legendary battles to hidden underground tunnels. In this guide, we'll take you through the secrets of Kerak Castle so that you can explore and appreciate this fascinating piece of history.

Introduction to Kerak Castle

Are you planning a road trip along Jordan’s famous King’s Highway? If so, add Kerak Castle to your list of must-visit destinations. Located on a hilltop, this fortress boasts 16 towers, with the most impressive being the Tower of Baybars. As one of the largest and most impressive Crusader castles ever built, Kerak Castle is a treasure trove of historical and archaeological wonders. Throughout its long history, the castle has survived numerous sieges. It has stood as a testament to the power struggles of people who once lived in the region, including the Moabites, Israelites, and Crusaders.

Visiting Kerak Castle is an exciting and insightful experience for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Holy Land. But before you go, you should know that the site is still undergoing archaeological work and restorations, meaning some areas might be inaccessible or off-limits. However, this should not deter you from exploring the castle's vast and fascinating interior. You can explore the Crusader architecture's dark, rough volcanic rock on the upper level and white limestone Arab additions on the lower levels.

To reach Kerak Castle, you must follow the King’s Highway and approach it along K. Hussein Street. Be prepared to encounter a small modern ticket office, where you will be asked for an entry fee of 2 Jordanian dinars per person. However, entrance to the castle is free if you have a Jordan Pass. It's important to beware of parking scams, so make sure you find a safe and secure place to park your vehicle.

If you're interested in spending the night in the old town, Kerak Castle is the perfect place. The castle's characterfully lesser-visited old town boasts several accommodations combining the area's historic charm and modern amenities. Depending on your preference and budget, you can choose from various budget-friendly, family-friendly, or luxurious hotels.

A visit to Kerak Castle is one of the highlights of any trip to Jordan. The castle's rich and diverse history, with the fascinating architectural details and stunning views of the surrounding desert landscapes, makes it a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring the cultural and historical wonders of the Holy Land. So don't hesitate to plan your visit today and uncover the secrets of the fascinating Crusader fortress in Jordan. [1][2]

Jordan's most impressive Crusader Castle

Are you planning to visit Jordan and wondering which ancient castle to explore? Look no further than Kerak Castle, the country's largest and most impressive Crusader Castle. Built-in the 12th century, Kerak Castle was considered vast for its time and quickly became an important stronghold for the Crusaders due to its strategic position and the collection of taxes from trade caravans. Though the fortress fell under Muslim rule following a siege by Saladin in 1188, the ruins and fortifications remain fascinating to visit. The site is still in a state of archaeological works and yet-to-be-done restorations, allowing visitors to explore its history and power in times past.

You'll encounter a small modern ticket office as you approach Kerak Castle along K. Hussein Street. If you have the Jordan Pass, there's no fee to enter, while others pay just 2 JD per person. Since Kerak Castle is a vast site, allowing enough time to visit and explore its impressive features is crucial. When you plan your visit, be aware of parking scams, and use caution when choosing where to park.

There's much-hidden history in Kerak Castle and the surrounding area that many do not know. For example, after World War I, Kerak was ruled by the British until the Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921. Despite the majority religion of Jordan being Muslim, Kerak and its small town have been predominantly Christian since the crusades. Christians are allowed to practice their religion within Jordan's Islamic Laws.

When you stand at Kerak's highest point, you'll see its strategic position, set on a hill with steep ramparts. From there, you can peer over the mountains towards the Dead Sea and gain a sense of the dedication required to stay confined to cold stone castles. Wander around the classic Crusader architecture with Roman-style vaults and long stone corridors, and explore the ruins of the Crusader chapel and the underground dungeons in the whiter limestone sections.

Kerak Castle is also a great stopping point down to Petra and Wadi Rum. If you have time, visit the other Crusader Castles in Jordan, such as Shobak Castle and Ajloun Castle, with its secret tunnel. Happy travels, and enjoy exploring the secrets of Kerak Castle. [3][4]

The historical significance of Kerak Castle and the Kingdom of Moab

Are you visiting Jordan and looking for a unique historical site? Look no further than Kerak Castle, the crown jewel of all castles built during the Crusades. Its strategic location on trade routes from Damascus to Egypt made it an essential fortification for the Crusaders. Construction began in the 1140s and continued under the rule of several lords, including Pagan, Lord of Oultrejordain, who made it the centre of his power. The castle's most notable architectural feature is the immense arched halls on two levels built into the north wall, used as living quarters, stables, and fighting galleries.

But Kerak Castle's significance dates back even further. The castle stands on the land of the ancient Kingdom of Moab, whose history is recorded in the Book of Genesis. According to the book, Moabites and Ammonites are the sons of Lot, born from incestuous relationships with his daughters. This incestuous lineage built the Temple of Chemosh, reputedly in the same spot as Kerak Castle, after a major victory. However, little is known about the temple's fate after the Israelites conquered the Kingdom of Moab. The Franks replaced the temple with their impenetrable castle in 1142 AD, cementing the importance of the site for centuries to come.

During the castle's long history, it faced numerous sieges, most notably by Saladin in the 12th century. Reynold of Chatillon, the lord of Kerak Castle, harassed enemy camel caravans and even attempted to attack Mecca, earning the ire of Saladin. Despite several attempts, Saladin could not conquer Kerak Castle due to the timely arrival of Jerusalem's reinforcements. However, his nephew successfully captured the castle in 1188, ushering in a new era of Ayyubid control over the region. Following its fall, Kerak Castle served as an administrative centre and the site of one of the treasuries of the Ayyubid Dynasty.

Today, Kerak Castle is open to visitors year-round, and it is worth a visit to experience its fascinating history and architecture. While walking through its dusty halls and walls, imagine what it must have felt like to face the vast armies of Saladin and the constant prayers of the highly religious defenders. So, next time you visit Jordan, plan a stop at the incredible Kerak Castle. [5][6]

The strategic importance of Kerak Castle under the control of the Lord of Transjordan

Are you planning to visit Jordan? Then, you should add Kerak Castle to your itinerary. This castle, atop a hill in the desert, is one of the greatest Crusader castles ever built. Completed in 1161 under the control of the Lord of Transjordan, it quickly became a wealthy centre of power due to its strategic position. Here's a guide on how to make the most of your visit to this fascinating fortress.

Approaching the castle, you'll encounter a small modern ticket office, where you'll be asked to show your Jordan Pass. If you have one, there's no fee to enter. Otherwise, it's just 2 JD per person. From there, you'll walk across a wooden bridge above a dried-out moat to enter the castle.

The castle is considered vast for its time, much larger than any castles built during the same period in Europe. It served military purposes and the steady collection of taxes from trade caravans heading to Jerusalem. Various fortifications have been added and removed, destroyed and restored over the years, and much of it is still in a raw state of archaeological works and yet-to-be-done restorations.

Exploring the seemingly relatively intact ruins, you'll get a real sense of how strategically important the castle once was and the power it once wielded. You can also better stitch together the composition of the Holy Land. Don't miss the immense arched halls on two levels used for living quarters and stables. They also served as a fighting gallery and shelter against missiles from the surrounding area.

In addition to the castle, you can explore the characterfully lesser-visited old town of Kerak. The town is within walking distance and offers an inside look into local life. You'll find local shops and cafes to take a break from exploring the castle.

If you're looking to spend the night in Kerak, several hotels are in the area. However, please be aware of parking scams, and be cautious while driving in the town.

Kerak Castle is a must-visit on any road trip along the King’s Highway in Jordan. It's a fascinating place to explore, with much of it still in a raw state of archaeological works and yet-to-be-done restorations. With this guide, you're well-prepared to make the most of your visit to this strategic fortress. [7][8]

The Crusaders' reign at Kerak Castle and its fall to Muslim rule under Saladin

Kerak Castle, located in Jordan, was one of the largest and most impressive castles built by the Crusaders during their reign. It was constructed in the 1140s under the rulership of Pagan and served as the centre of power for his lordship, replacing a weaker fortress to the south. Due to its strategic location, east of the Dead Sea, Kerak Castle could control trade routes, herdsmen, and even entire regions of Jordan.

As the centuries passed, Kerak Castle became the site of significant conflict. It was besieged three times in the 12th century alone. Reynald of Chatillon, the Lord of Kerak Castle, harassed trade and even attempted an attack on Mecca, ultimately drawing the attention of Saladin, the Sultan of Syria and Egypt. Saladin besieged Kerak Castle twice and finally captured it in 1188 after Reynald's successor surrendered. The castle fell not due to a lack of food but rather a lack of arms.

Under Ayyubid Dynasty rule, Kerak Castle maintained its importance as an administrative centre, serving as the home of a royal treasury for years to come. During internal conflict within the Ayyubid Dynasty in the 1230s and 40s, Kerak Castle was one of only three princedoms able to remain independent. Its defences were expanded and improved in 1244-45.

In the 1260s, under Mamluk Sultan's rule, the castle played an important role due to its location on the crossroads between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Under the Mamluks, Kerak Castle maintained a significant military force and served as the site of several ministries, including the Ministry of the Army and Finance.

Today, Kerak Castle is a testament to Crusader architecture's power and beauty. Visitors can explore its numerous halls, towers, and walls, including the immense arched halls on the north wall, which serve as living quarters, stables, and fighting galleries. Despite heavy damage sustained throughout its sieges and ages, Kerak Castle remains an important cultural site in the Middle East.

As you wander through the dusty halls and walls of Kerak Castle, it's easy to imagine the dramatic sieges that took place here. Stand where highly religious Crusaders once spoke to God, and ponder the dramatic history of this incredible fortress. As you explore, keep in mind the numerous rulers who controlled Kerak Castle throughout the centuries, including Pagan, Saladin, and the Mamluk Sultans, who recognized its strategic importance and maintained its significant role in both military and administrative affairs. [9][10]

Architecture and design of Kerak Castle during the Crusader period

If you're planning a trip to Jordan, there's one stop that you absolutely cannot miss: Kerak Castle. This impressive fortress atop a hill just off the King's Highway is considered one of the greatest Crusader castles ever built. Beyond its impressive size and strategic importance, what makes Kerak Castle fascinating is how it seamlessly blends together architectural styles from various periods.

Construction on Kerak Castle began in the 1140s, under the control of Pagan the Butler and his nephew Maurice. Over time, the castle grew and evolved, with various rulers adding towers, ditches, and other defensive features. The most notable feature from the Crusader period that still survives today is the impressive arched halls built into the castle's north wall, which served as both living quarters and stables.

However, the most interesting thing about Kerak Castle is its role in the interplay between different cultures and kingdoms during the Crusader period. Throughout its history, it served as a centre of power for the Crusaders and a base for attacks on trade caravans headed to Jerusalem. Later, under Muslim rule, it became an important administrative centre and the site of one of the Ayyubid Dynasty's royal treasuries.

Today, visitors to Kerak Castle can explore its many fascinating layers of history and architecture. The castle is still undergoing archaeological work and restoration, but much of it is open for visitors to explore. A visit to Kerak Castle will surely be a highlight of any trip to Jordan and is not to be missed. Be sure to allow plenty of time for your visit, as the castle is massive and there is much to see and explore. [11][12]