SHOBAK (MONTREAL) CASTLE, King’s Highway, Jordan
The King’s Highway of Jordan has been an important trade route from Egypt to the Euphrates River for thousands of years. The route roughly runs along Jordan Rift Valley, from the source of Jordan River, passes through the Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, Arabah Depression, Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, in Jordan, Palestine and Israel. The Jordan Rift Valley lies in the crossroad of the tectonic plates, including the Arabian Plate, Dead Sea Transform Fault, Sinai Microplate. The dramatic valley landscape is formed by the geological movements of the tectonic plates, forming an interesting backdrop for the historical King’s Highway. Today, tourists and pilgrims travel on the historical backbone of the country, the King’s Highway, from Mount Nebo and Madaba in the north, passed by the Crusader castles of Karak and Shobak, and arrive at the magnificent Nabataean lost city of Petra.
From Karak, our hired taxi brought us to Shobak Castle, the second Crusader castles that we visited in Jordan. In 1115, Baldwin I King of Jerusalem ordered the construction of Shobak Castle, establishing the oldest Crusader castle in the region. Also known as Montreal, the Shobak Castle is not as big as Karak, but the ruins and the surrounding landscape is no less impressive. We met few tourists (except a local family of six) in the castle, despite the admission was free of charge. We wandered freely in the castle ruins. Apart from the ruins, what truly impressed me the most was the surrounding landscape of the Jordan Rift Valley.
Castle Shobak is also known as Montreal, or Mont Royal.
Baldwin I King of Jerusalem built the Shobak Castle to control the caravan routes between Egypt and Syria.
Tunnels were constructed in the castle to access two spring cisterns down the hill.
The tunnel access to water source allowed the castle to hold longer during a siege.
Yet, in May 1189, the castle fell to the army of Ayyubid sultan Saladin.
Probably for defensive uses, a number of stone balls are in display at the ruins.
Some stone balls were placed on the defensive walls of the castle.
The stone balls looked interesting against the blue sky.
During our visit, we met a local family who waved to us and posed for our photo.
Despite mainly in ruins, visiting Shobak Castle was an impressive experience.
Ayyubid force controlled the castle for 70 years and embellished the complex with carved inscriptions.
From the castle, we could get a decent view of the landscape of Jordan Rift Valley.
Down below, the landscape and ruined buildings blended into one coherent picture.
The pristine landscape surrounding the castle was a pleasant surprise.
We spent quite a long while just to admire the impressive landscape.
Looking carefully into the surrounding landscape, we could find many ruined buildings.
The ruins and the landscape almost seemed like an abstract painting.
From Shobak, there are various hiking trails toward different directions, including north to Dana and south to Petra.