Karak and its castle: what to see, how to get there and more practical information

Karak is an important stop on the tourist circuits of Jordan… as it was in the past on the caravan routes that ran along what is now the
King’s Road
, between Syria and Arabia or Egypt. And virtually all the attention goes to the
Karak Castle, an imposing construction that takes us back to the time of the Crusades. On this page we tell you what to see in Karak, how to get here and other details of interest for your trip.

Table of Contents

Where is Karak

Karak It is located in the middle of the King’s Highway, which runs through the Jordanian Highlands from one end to the other. Specifically, it is located in its southern section, that is, the southernmost of Wadi Al Mujib, the rocky canyon that, for a moment, breaks the linear route of this communication route. However, it is located more or less in the center of the country, halfway between Petra and
. The city is the capital of Al Governorate.
Karak and has about 40,000 inhabitants.

Map of Karak

A bit of history

The history of Karak it has parallels with many other cities in the area and throughout Jordan in general. It was an important Moabite city for its strategic location, in the middle of the caravan route that connected Syria with Egypt and Arabia, and also for this reason it was used by Nabataeans, Greeks and Romans, as well as their successors the Byzantines. A good example of this importance is in its appearance in the famous mosaic map of

But without a doubt, Karak It occupies a prominent place in Jordanian history thanks to the important role it played in Crusader times: the king of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, built a large castle in the mid-twelfth century, which was part of a huge network of fortresses to defend the eastern flank of his kingdom. This network also included castles such as
, further south.

And he played that role for about half a century, because at the end of the twelfth century he was conquered by Saladin’s troops. In fact, the capture of this castle in 1183 is considered a transcendental date in that process of Arab reconquest: he besieged it for a whole year and, upon entering the castle, took the life of its lord, Renaud de Chatillon. Some time later a large equestrian statue was erected in the city in memory of that Ayyubid sultan, so idolized in the area.

In the following century, Karak Castle It was consolidated by the Mamluks, but at the end of that century it could not resist another onslaught, this time from the earth: a great earthquake caused very important damage to its structure. This was found in 1812 by Jean Louis Burckhardt, the Swiss explorer who rediscovered Petra for the Western world, who visited it on his travels in the area.

In parallel to the Karak Castle, the city was growing gradually, where Arabs and Christians coexisted, although not without conflicts: at the end of the nineteenth century, the entire Christian population was forced to leave the city after one of these confrontations, heading to Madaba, where the climate of tolerance was greater.

Karak Castle, Jordan

What to see in Karak

Except for the statue of Saladin located in the center of the city, all attention and interest is concentrated in the castle of Karak. Its figure rises imposing on top of the hill, although it is even missing important elements such as several towers, fallen during the earthquake of the thirteenth century. Its current state, however, denotes an important effort to restore and preserve the elements that have survived since then, with abundant information panels and a simple ticket office at the entrance.

This is the list of places to see in Karak, all of them within the castle grounds:

  • Ottoman gate: is the current access entrance. The walkway is modern, but let you intuit the moat that was here
  • Gallery of the Crusaders: despite their imposing appearance, they had a very simple function, because they were the stables. Just above it there is a large viewpoint that allows you to appreciate the excellent views of the surroundings
  • Church of the Crusaders: the most striking thing that is preserved is its pointed vault. It could probably be used defensively in case of attack.
  • Mamluk palace: it is the best preserved structure and the most striking, you can even see the mihrab of its mosque
  • Dungeons: it is one of the most evocative spaces, and was used as a prison
  • Islamic Museum: it is a small construction where archaeological pieces recovered in the conservation work of the castle of Karak are exhibited, as well as other important remains found in the area

How to get to Karak

All the options to get to Karak They go through road transport. If you want to use a public and collective option, you have to arm yourself with patience: the bus station practically only receives minibuses, which do not have very regular schedules, because they only leave when they are full. Amman, Shobak or Wadi Musa are some of the populations connected in this way. Instead Karak is not part of the JETT bus company’s regular route network.

If you opt for a private vehicle or your own bus, it is easy to get here, on journeys that are not too long, since it is located in the center of the country. These are some distances and indicative durations:

  • Amman: 130 km, 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Madaba: 115 km, 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Dead Sea (Swemeh): 90 km, 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Wadi Musa (Petra): 175 km, 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Wadi Rum (visitor centre): 260 km, 2 and a half hours
  • Aqaba: 245 km, 3 hours

Plan your trip to Karak

Disfruta de Karak
Enjoy experiences
Cambia tu moneda unicamente Espana Karak
Change your currency (Spain only)
Vuelos muy baratos Karak
Very cheap flights
Alquila tu coche Karak
Rent your car
Contrata Wifi o telefono Karak
Hire Wifi or phone
Quieres una tarjeta Karak
Do you want a card, we have it!

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