On the road to Petra, we took the time to visit two Crusader castles: Karak & Shawbak
Karak Castle is one of the best preserved Crusader castle in Jordan. Built after the First Crusade, it held a strategic position overlooking the Dead Sea & the caravan routes between Syria to Egypt & Arabia.
The castle is inextricably linked to the Crusader knight Reynald of Chatillon, a knight from the Second Crusade. Reynald was a nasty piece of work – there are stories of Reynald throwing prisoners from the castle walls. In a twist, he encased their heads in boxes first, in the hope that this would stop them losing consciousness before they hit the rocks below.
What a guy !!
He constantly attacked the camel trains passing by the castle, despite there being a truce between the Crusaders & the Muslim leader, Saladin.
When the Crusaders were defeated at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin spared the king & the Crusader lords, except for Reynald of Chatillon, who he personally decapitated.
The castle was besieged by Saladin & fell in 1188.
Shawbak was built in 1115 by Balwin I. The castle was originally called “Krak de Montreal”.
It held a strategic location, overlooking the pilgrimage & caravan routes between Syria to Egypt & Arabia.
It was besieged by Saladin in 1187 & finally fell in 1189 after the defender sold their wives & children in exchange for food.