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Jordan: Kerak

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Kerak | Jordan | Asia

[Visited: October 2005]

After a 2-hour ride by minivan from Amman, I stepped out on the street and the goal of my trip here was immediately visible, looming high above me. The crusader castle of Kerak, defining the skyline above my head. Instead of following the road, I directly took the steep path leading up, and I was at the foot of the castle. Kerak, or Karak as it is often called, was visible behind the old walls of the crusader village, and I decided to walk around in the old town before entering the castle.

Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak castle seen from below just before sunset

The history of Kerak goes back before Christ. It was on the routes of the ancient caravans more than 2,000 years ago, it played a role in Greek and Roman history, and was known as Kir, Characmoba, and other names, also in the Bible. Actually, al-Karak is derived from karka, which is Aramaic for "the walled town or city". The Crusaders rediscovered the strategical importance of the town, and in 1132CE the castle was built. Several battles and decades passed before Saladin conquered the castle in 1188. Instead of destroying the castle, the Mamluks recognized its importance and decided to strenghten it instead. Even though the castle was damaged by earthquake and neglected for some time, it can still be seen now that different parts were built in different times.

Picture of Kerak (Jordan): At-Tawaheen tower in Kerak town

After walking around in the charming and bustling town, I walked around the town and approached the castle from below, climbing up the hill through a garbage field. Once inside, I visited the museum and mostly enjoyed walking around the vaulted passageways, climbing the defensive walls for the great views, discovering dark tunnels and stairs leading up or down, looking out for openings in the floor, which were light holes for the floor below, trying to imagine how the various parts must have looked like when Kerak was a stronghold in the Middle Ages. In my search for a good viewpoint over the castle, I was then invited inside a home of one of the villagers, and a very hospitable family it was, indeed. As I walked down the street, the castle was glowing in the late afternoon sun as it must have been for centuries.

Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak Castle: part of the castle near the North Front
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Art carved stone in Kerak Castle
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak Castle: inside one of the many tunnels
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak Castle at sunset
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak town and At-Tawaheen tower
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Saladin in the centre of Kerak town
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): View from Kerak Castle and Crusader town from the South Front
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Remains of wall of Kerak Castle
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak Castle: one of the many stone arches
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak Castle: one of the many passageways
Picture of Kerak (Jordan): Kerak Castle: arch and stairs in one of the many underground tunnels

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Kerak (Jordan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Kerak.
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