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.
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.
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.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Kerak (). 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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