The Dead Sea

Desert Castles


Mt. Nebo







Desert Castles

Click on any image below to enlarge or start a slide show.

Although it is mentioned as far back as the Iron Age, and Isaiah even prophesied its     destruction, Kerak achieved prominence only after the Crusaders built a fortress here.

In 1142, the castle was completed, and Kerak was made capital of the province.  Thanks to its strategic location along the King's Highway, Kerak was well placed to play an active role in trade.

Over the centuries, the castle has been fought over, and handed back and forth between the Arabs, Mamluks, Ottomans, local individuals, the British and, finally, the Jordanians.  The Mamluks and the Ottomans added annexes to the fortress castle, but it remains an excellent example of Crusader Architecture - probably the most impressive in the line of rooms served as barracks; the above-ground rooms are long narrow halls with small slits for windows.  The complex is surrounded by a deep dry moat - to which prisoners were cast for certain death.

Ajlun:  As we approached the Muslim-Christian city of Ajlun, there is an impressive stone fortress towering over the countryside.  It looks like a Crusader castle, but was built in 1185 as a defense against the advancing Latin Crusaders.

The crosses, which are etched into the stones, have an explanation.  long before the Arabs built the fortress, a monastery was located on the same site, and it was inhabited by a Christian named Ajlun.  His name was kept over the centuries, and the ruins were used to build the defenses.

In the thirteenth century, the fortress was expanded, and then it fell to the Mongols in 1260.  After the Mamluks rebuilt it, it no longer served any military purpose and became a regional administrative center, which reported directly to Damascus.

The castle commands one of the most breathtaking views in all of Jordan.  On a clear day, you can see from the Sea of Galilee all the way down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea.


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