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Shobak, the Royal Castle

Shobak Castle (Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN – Shobak Castle, the oldest Crusader castle in Jordan, is best-known for its natural camouflaged appearance and unique structures.    اضافة اعلان

Benefitting from its proximity to Petra, Jordan's most visited site, Shobak Castle is listed on most of the itineraries of tourists coming to Jordan.

The castle was built by King Baldwin I in if Jerusalem in 1115 AD during his expedition to east Jordan.

The castle was originally called Krak de Montreal or Mons Regalis, which translates to 'the castle of kings' or 'the royal mountain'.

interior of crusader castle Shobak (Photo: Shutterstock)

The purpose of building it was to defend the Kingdom of Jerusalem's eastern frontiers and control the trade and military route between Syria and Egypt.

It was captured in 1189 AD by the armies of Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty, after several attacks and lengthy sieges.

According to historians, Saladin realized the strategic location of the castle between Egypt and Syria, the most important countries in the region back.

Therefore, he thought of taking the castle as early as 1167 AD, launching his first military campaign against it i 1171 AD.

In 1177 AD, Raynald de Châtillon became the governor of Kerak and Shobak and started attacking traders and pilgrims caravans and threatened to attack Mecca.

Winning the battle of Hattin in 1187 AD, Saladin imposed a 2-year siege that resulted in taking the castle and ending the crusaders' presence in Transjordan.

The fortress was struck by an earthquake in 1211 AD, which destroyed most of it and killed many people.

During the Mameluke period, Shobak Castle was rebuilt and several structures were added.

Meanwhile, starting from 1516 AD (Ottoman era) Shobak was neglected and even deliberately destroyed by an Ottoman Pasha in 1860.

Shobak Castle is smaller and less complete than its sister to the north (Kerak Castle), which was built later in 1142 AD to become the seat of Transjordan's governor appointed by the king of Jerusalem.

For castles enthusiasts, however, Shobak Castle is distinctive for its unique location and diverse history.

Unlike other castles, Shobak is not easy to recognize even from a short distance for the camouflage provided by the many pointed hills surrounding it and its walls that were built from the local rocks.

Montreal Castle and the Shobak visitor Center (Photo: Wikipedia)

The castle is usually approached by a short uphill walk from visitor center.

The castle is famous for the Arabic calligraphy inscribed round its watch towers, which dates back to the 13th century.

Entering the castle, visitors can see structures that represent all dynasties that occupied it, including churches, water wells and pottery pipes, and baths.

Ruins of the Shobak Castle in Jordan (Photo: Shutterstock)

Among the major attractions inside the castle is one of its secret tunnels, which has stairs that lead down to the bottom of the hill (on which the castle stands) for around 150 meters, ending at a water spring.

Perhaps that was the very reason why the castle withstood Saladin's seige for two years.

The castle has two churches that are part of the original construction by the crusaders.

Among the Mameluke additions is the school, thought to have been used for teaching Quran.

The view from fortress includes small desert villages, valleys and hills with distinctive rock formations.

In the adjacent valley to the north, visitors can see water-powered mills that used for grain grinding, a tangible evidence that area was fertile back in the time.
Therefore, it is not strange that Shobak region nowadays provides a large portion of Jordan's apples.

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