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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6 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.

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