Jordan explored – Kerak Castle

Kerak Castle
Kerak Castle

Back in November, The Significant Other and I visited Jordan. It was a great trip into a fascinating country. I already wrote about our visit to the ancient Nabatean capital Petra. Today I invite you to a tour of Kerak Castle, a stronghold from the time of the crusaders.

Kerak Castle

The city of Al Kerak has about 20 000 inhabitants and is located on the ancient King’s Highway, which crosses Jordan from north to south. In biblical times the capital of the kingdom of Moab was located here. Later, the city was dominated by the Nabataeans, then it was conquered by the Romans in 105 AD.

View from Kerak Castle
Kerak Castle West Flank
Dead Sea seen from Kerak Castle
View from Kerak Castle towards the Dead Sea and the hills of Judea

In 1142, under Paganus (“Payen le Bouteiller”), a huge crusader castle, Crac des Moabites, was built here on a rocky outcrop. Strategically located on the caravan route between Damascus and Mecca, it was for some time the capital of the Oultrejourdain dominion, which was part of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Kerak Castle Stable
Stable for the Knight’s Horses
Kerak Castle Stable

From 1183, Sultan Saladin repeatedly besieged the castle. Thanks to the enormous supplies in the castle, the crusader knights were able to hold Kerak for a long time. After the battle of Hattin, in which Saladin was able to defeat the crusader army near Tiberias, he besieged the castle again for over eight months until the starving defenders eventually had to surrender.

Kerak Castle Interior Courtyard
Interior Courtyard

In the 13th century, Kerak Castle remained the stronghold of the Mamluk sultans, serving as treasury and administrative center. The Castle was besieged again in 1834 by a rebel leader of a peasants revolt. In 1840, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt captured the castle and destroyed much of its fortifications.

Kerak Castle
Palace Area

Kerak Castle is an example of a castle built by the Franks that used a fortified tower structure. It is a notable example of the Crusader architecture, a mixture of west European, Byzantine, and Arab designs. 

Kerak Castle Decorative Element
Decorative Stone
Kerak Castle Nabatean Stone
Stone taken form an ancient Nabatean temple

The builders also used decorative elements taken from ancient Nabatean and Roman structures in the vicinity.

Kerak Castle Interior
Interior Hallway
Kerak Castle Interior
Castle Kitchen
Kerak Castle Interior
Great Hall
Kerak Castle Interior
View from Kerak Castle
Eastern Flank
View from Kerak Castle
Western Flank
Kerak Castle Interior
Underground passageway

The castle was heavily fortified, including ditches and thick stone walls. Because Muslim armies started to use siege weapons, the crusader castles had to adapt by building thicker and more solid walls. While we toured the castle structures below ground, we got a great impression of these incredible thick walls and roof structures.

Kerak Castle Interior
Dungeon hallway

Kerak Castle is a fascinating place to visit. While aboveground many buildings have been destroyed, there is a lot to see in the underground structures of the crusader castle. And it was easy to imagine how the old knights roamed through the hallways and rooms some nine hundred years ago while trying to liberate the Holy Land.

I took all photographs with my Olympus OM-D E-M1X and the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4 Pro Zoom. Postprocessing in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

I hope you liked this tour through this old crusader castle. Stay tuned for more of fascinating Jordan.

Have a great Saturday!


Related Posts:

Jordan explored – Petra by Night

StoNur on the Road – Blood Mountains


Liguria Explored – Mountain Village

20 thoughts on “Jordan explored – Kerak Castle

Add yours

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: