Karak, an ancient Crusader fortress within the old city walls, is situated 900 metres above sea level. With a population of about 170,000 people, the city still has a variety of restored 19th-century Ottoman houses, restaurants, and lodging options. The Karak castle, however, is undeniably the most prominent feature.
Whether you approach Kerak from the ancient Kings Highway in Jordan to the east or from the Dead Sea to the west, the striking silhouette of this fortified city and castle will immediately make you understand why the fate of kings and nations has been decided here for millennia.
The fort itself is a dark labyrinth of salt with barrel vaults and infinite passages. The best-preserved are the underground ones, reachable through a massive door (ask at the ticket office). The castle itself is more imposing than beautiful, although it is even more impressive as an example of the military architectural genius of the Crusaders.
Al-Karak is the name of a city in southern Jordan, best known for housing a pearl of Crusader engineering, the Karak fortress. Any enemy who approached this defensive giant had to doubt the possibility of conquering it. The fortress on the southern edge of the plateau, whose rocky slope is in itself an insurmountable natural defense.
But, as everything that is difficult to conquer becomes more challenging to the spirit of the daring, this fortress is full of stories of sieges, of assaults on the castle, of conquests and of taking. Jordan itself owes this city overlooking the Jordan valley decisive moments in its history.
When the Crusaders arrived here in the 12th century, made Al-Karak their headquarters and built this emblematic fortress. Its strategic position made it possible to control any movement of trade routes between Damascus, Egypt, and Mecca.
Travelers are advised better to go with a flashlight as many of the visitable spaces are completely deprived of light. On the west wall, and going down the modern staircase to the lower floor, is the Archaeological Museum of Karak. Here, the history of the city and the fortress during the rule of the Crusaders and Muslims reported in detail.
A well-traveled bridge between sea and desert, east and west, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a land of mesmerizing beauty and contrasts, from the Jordan Valley, fertile, ever changing, to the remote desert canyons, immense and still. Visitors can explore splendid desert castles, gaze in awe at the haunting wilderness of Wadi Rum, or bathe in the restful waters of the Red Sea.
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