Jordan’s history is surprisingly rich. And one of the most evocative periods is that of the Crusades, that is, the military campaigns sponsored by the Pope and the European kings to conquer Jerusalem and make it available to Christendom. From that turbulent time of holy wars remain the castles of the Crusaders in Jordan. In this post we show you the best, whose visit will be of interest if you like history and, specifically, the Middle Ages.
A bit of context
In total there were nine Crusades, but the one that had special importance in this territory was the First Crusade and the consequent emergence of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, in the twelfth century. This led the Crusaders to build a network of fortresses that would serve to defend the confines of their territory. Thus, the current castles of the Crusaders in Jordan once served to protect the eastern flank of the kingdom. On the other side was the Emirate of Damascus which in turn tried to reconquer the lost ground.
That is why, in the castles of the Jordanian Crusaders, the periods often overlap: some fortresses are of Crusader origin, but were later reformed (or rebuilt after causing their destruction) by the power that took them, especially the Ayyubids of Saladin.
List of the best Crusader castles in Jordan
- Karak: it is perhaps the most spectacular and rises in the middle of Carretera del Rey. Its state of conservation is relatively good and it is possible to contemplate spaces as significant as the dungeons or the church, although the best preserved construction is later: the Mamluk palace However, in the city and in the fortress itself its conqueror is venerated: Sultan Saladin
- Shobak: preserved in worse condition than Karak, but also very interesting and emerged as a lookout post of the aforementioned King’s Road. It was founded by King Baudouin I and built by French troops, hence its original name was Mont Real. Here you can admire spaces such as its Tower of Homage and prison Z as well as remains of its churches
- Pharaoh Island: This is not exactly a Crusader castle in Jordan, since this islet is Egyptian territory. However, its proximity to Aqaba in the gulf of the same name makes many boat trips that include your visit (consult the corresponding bureaucratic procedures to access it). Despite its name, the castle has nothing to do with Ancient Egypt. It is believed that it was built in the mid-twelfth century and was a strategic space for the surveillance of the route between Cairo and Damascus. It was taken and rebuilt by Saladin
Other castles nearby but outside Jordan
In addition to the aforementioned Crusader castles, very close to Jordan you can discover others: those that today are in Palestinian or Israeli territory. And the good news is that some of our combined circuits include your visit. They stand out, above all, the hospitable citadel of Acre or San Juan de Acre, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
In addition, in other places such as Caesarea will also be very present the works of these religious and military knights, largely of French origin, who enrolled in a company that marked the relationship between East and West in the Middle Ages. So if you want to know more about these buildings and their context, join one of our tours in Jordan or one combined with Israel.