If Mount Nebo was a spiritual place, a place of pilgrimage from antiquity, Kerak Castle and its surrounding areas take us to the ‘battle zone’. These were important areas in the Crusader route since Jerusalem is not that far from here. The Crusades in simplistic terms are defined as the action by Christians (travelling from far away Europe) to liberate the Holy Lands (specifically Jerusalem) from the Muslims who controlled it at that point in time. The Arabs/Muslims also identify defense of their lands and their faith as the motives behind these conflicts.

In real terms the Crusades were more complex but the above can still serve as a broad framework for the conflicts that took place from about  1095A.D to 1272 A.D.The Christian cities fell to Muslims one after the other and that brought to an end the Christian rule in the Levant. The Catholics have their version of the Crusades and why they were carried out and the Arabs and Muslims another. The truth as usual, I suspect, lies somewhere between these two perspectives. It is obvious though that the reasons were a mix of social,political and religious agendas and land grab a key theme of these bloody and brutal wars fought such a long time ago.

The castle looms large over the landscape and Kerak town nestles almost within its folds. Even to this day Kerak is a largely Christian town and its inhabitants trace their roots to early Byzantine empires. We get to dine first in a resturant which actually is in the castle.You finish your meal and exit the restuarant and are on to the castle territory. There it is:the restuarnt at the top and the castle with guns and all !

When you get to the castle you have the same panoramic view that the Crusaders beheld when they were here(ofcourse they were probably on the look out for Saladin and his forces and not admiring the view).
 

 Kerak castle was the place from where the Crusaders were able to repulse the sieges by Saladin and his forces in 1183 and 1184 before finally capitulating in the siege of 1189. This castle will not win any prizes for beauty but it is an awesome example of the miltary architecture of the Crusaders.It survived many ‘owners’ but was extensively damaged/destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt in 1840. Have a look at the pictures below to get an idea of its scale and detailed planning that helped it withstand so many sieges.

The, long hallways, the bakery with smoke blackened ceiling, The catapult stone, the grinding stones (chakki), the kitchen sink, and the kitchen make one feel that time has stood still inside the castle and that its old inhabitants have just left in the middle of everyday routines.

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Some more views of the castle and we were( reluctantly) ready to take the King’s Highway again to move onwards towards our next destination, the Rose city of Petra.

 

 

Signing off for now. Join me again on the King’s Highway.

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