Kerak

Following on down south on the Kings Highway one will come across the town of Kerak (also spelt Al-Karak), a small town of around 25,000 people. While many tourists bypass this town as they speed on down towards Petra it is worth a stop to see one of the most amazingly preserved castles from the Crusader era.

Built in AD 1142 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem, this site was chosen for its strategic location between Shobak and Jerusalem. Being on a hilltop it’s strategic position between trade routes meant it could charge high taxes on passing caravans, and thus Jerusalem prospered significantly from this. It was then inherited by a hated crusader called Renauld de Chatillon in 1148, and his greed for control over the whole regions trade routes severely impacted Islamic trading. Because of this, the famed Islamic leader Saladin stormed and took the castle with his army, and executed the evil de Chatillon in 1183.

Today, after passing a security checkpoint (ISIS tried a terror attack here in 2016), you will pass through the Ottoman Gate and pass a bridge over a huge moat. There are numerous display boards throughout explaining what you are seeing, so a guide is not totally necessary, but having someone explain the history and functions of the various rooms did add to the experience of the visit.

While of course the castle is amazing; full of hidden rooms, secret tunnels and fantastic stonework, it is the views from the imposing castle that were really special. The surrounding countryside is so dry and barren – it was great to overlook the landscape and try to visualise a hording army coming towards you over the vast plains. Just imagine being in the castle and seeing the dust of a thousand soldiers charging towards you!

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13 Responses to Kerak

  1. thebeerwanderer says:

    Good to see you back on recounting your trip. Hope to follow in your footsteps one day.

  2. Bama says:

    Unfortunately my friend and I were among those tourists who skipped this castle altogether. If we had one or two extra days, we would have definitely added Kerak in our itinerary. Thanks for mentioning about the checkpoint — that terror attack was really shocking as Jordan has for a long time been considered one of the safest places in the Middle East.

    • Anna says:

      Thanks for your comment Bama. Yes I never even heard of the terror attack until our guide told us! Because of this attempted attack most of the important tourist sites now have metal detectors and bag scanners before entering. A sad sign of our times.

  3. awtytravels says:

    Splendid! It reminds me somehow of the Krak des chevaliers over in Syria… alas that one is all but destroyed these days. 😦

    • Anna says:

      I am so sad that I didn’t go to Syria when I had the chance. Always thought I’d go “one day” in the future but now it doesn’t look so good. I’ve heard they smashed Palmyra to pieces too. Such a tragedy.

  4. Hello Anna. A quick note to say I’m going to follow your blog. No pressure to reciprocate, though I’ll be glad if you do.

    Neil Scheinin

  5. Fergy. says:

    Hello there Anna,

    I am fascinated with all things “Crusader” and was searching through all the WordPress blogs in search of information when I came upon your site here which is very interesting and a great read. I really do intend to follow in the footsteps of one or other of the Crusades as soon as this CoVid nonsense goes away, it really i putting a damper on things at the moment!

    I’m just off to read a few more of your pages now.

    Fergy.

    • Anna says:

      Omg Fergy…. Are you the Fergy that was on virtualtourist? I think you are, same profile pic! I was “willy wonka” on VT. Now of course, writing bits and pieces on here since VT closed. What a small world! Anyway if you love crusaders stuff then yes, come here, and also Shobak castle. (Sadly under Reno when I was there). Jordan is absolutely marvellous, I think you’d love it!

      • Fergy. says:

        Hello again Anna,

        indeed I am the very same person and I really must get round to sorting out a new profile pic, that one is 11 years old now but I am sort of used to it. I am very much a creature of habit.

        I love everything about the Crusades and had a vague notion forming about following the route of one of them (possibly the Peasant’s or the Prince’s) at least as far as Turkey this Spring as a little project but obviously that is right out the window now which is a shame. Looks like it might be a while until any of us get any travelling done.

        It is indeed a small world but I wouldn’t like to paint it! It is so good to hear from you again, let’s keep in touch. I will not use anti-social media and so I have completely lost touch with most of the old VT crew although I follow a few of them on their various blogs. I still see Sarah (toonsarah), Jo and Lesley from time to time for a meal but that is about all really. I still miss VT so much and have a ton of stuff saved from there which I need to transfer over here.

        I think I have followed your blog but I am rubbish with technology as you know. What I was doing buying my own website is still a mystery to me!

        Speak soon,

        Fergy.

      • Anna says:

        I’m glad you still catch up with some of the VT London crew! I have yet to meet Sarah but have been friends with her for ages! If I get to London in the future we will have to all get together for a drink. I do miss VT too, it was so easy and so fun and just a friendly place to hang. I’m not a huge fan of the social media either, but it’s often the only way to keep in touch with other VT friends. I’ve followed you too now so I look forward to reading more from you! Take care and keep safe!

      • Fergy. says:

        Great to hear from you again. Certainly look us up if you get back to London. We often have meets for visiting members, usually in the Ship in Holborn which was, and still is, VTHQ London.

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