I was on the last few days of my tour of Jordan in the Middle East, when I had found myself in the medieval Kerak Castle, and I was in awe. I have been to many castles throughout Europe before, but this was my first in the Levant. This impressive fortification is one of the largest castles in the Levant, and is located in the city of al-Karak. What made it remarkable for me was that this was a crusader built castle; as well as its solid masonry, although crude in architecture.
Kerak Castle had begun its construction in the 1940s, under Pagan and Fulk, King of Jerusalem. It is one of the first fortified tower structures built by the Franks, and is good example of Crusader type architecture- a mix of Arab, Byzantine, and west European designs. The Crusaders called it “Karak in Moab”, which is how the castle is referred to in history books. It is also referred to as Karak of the Desert.
The stonework of the castle was a standout for me, and I could not help but notice the strong fortified walls that surrounded me. It was built using rough volcanic stones by the crusaders; then limestone was used to expand the castle by the Muslims after Sa’d al-Din captured Kerak. Over time many of the castle’s defensces had been destroyed and rebuilt, especially during its conquest by the Ayyubids and Mamluks.
Kerak Castle is a good example of a spur castle, which is built on top of a mountain in order to take advantage of its views. Its location of being built on the end of a plateau surrounded on three sides by steep hills, gave the castle an advantage during attacks.
Over its 900 years, Kerak Castle had been occupied by several empires and dynasties including the Crusaders, the Ayyubid Dynasty (13th century), Mamluk Period (13th century), and the Ottoman era (14th – 19th centuries).
Today, Kerak Castle is a popular tourist site along the ancient King’s Highway. The city that surrounds the castle is a lively tourist town of about 170,000 people. It is a fascinating location to visit in Jordan due to its history and archaeology of the region of Kerak, as well as the castle itself.
For more places to visit while in Jordan: Petra and Beyond | UNESCO & Top Sights To Visit While In Jordan
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