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Kerak Castle | Crusader Castle

Kerak Castle | Crusader Castle
Karak Castle is a dark maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways. The best preserved are underground and can be reached via a massive door. More imposing than beautiful, the castle is nevertheless an impressive insight into the architectural military genius of the Crusaders.
 
With some care, you can walk along the crenellated top of the West Front wall and admire the sweeping view. On clear days, you can look across the Dead Sea and see all the way to the Mount of Olives bordering Jerusalem.
 
Away from the castle, visitors can visit the Castle Plaza, where beautiful 19th century Ottoman administrative buildings have been redesigned to house a tourist centre, with restaurants, a crafts centre and other facilities grouped around a central plaza. 
 
The famous Arab traveller Ibn Battuta wrote in his travel report that, in 1326, Karak could only be entered through a tunnel hewn in rock. The entrances to two such tunnels (which are now blocked) are still visible – a large one next to the road approaching Karak from the southeast (Salah ad-Din Street) and a smaller one near Baybars’ Tower.
 
The two most impressive towers (‘burj’ in Arabic) of Karak are Burj Al-Banawi, a round tower bearing a monumental inscription adorned by two panthers, the emblem of Sultan Baybars; Burj As-Sa’ub, a small fortress in its own right; and Burj Az-Zahir Baybars (or Baybars' Tower), a massive structure resembling the castle keep.
 
Karak is still a largely Christian town, and many of today's Christian families trace their origins back to the Byzantines.
 

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