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Karak Castle

Karak
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Karak Castle

Central Jordan is bisected by the King's Highway, which runs south between the Dead Sea and the desert. The undoubted highlight of travelling this route is the massive Crusader castle of Karak, with its immense fortifications dominating the provincial town that bears its name. It is the largest and best-preserved castle in the country.

The castle was built in 1140, and was one of the last outposts held by the Crusaders after Jerusalem was recaptured by Saladdin in 1187. It fell to the Arab-Kurdish armies the following year after a long drawn-out siege the following year).

Later occupiers added their own features. The Mamelukes widened the moat and added further towers, while visitors today enter through a gate built by the Ottomans. Inside, there are tunnels, dark chambers and dungeons, and vast arched-roof stables to explore.

If you head east out of town, past the Cairwan Hotel, there is a lookout point where you can get a spectacular view of the castle in its entirety.