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The castle of Shobak, the "royal mountain" Montreal or Mons Regalis as it used to be called, was the first Crusader fortress in a line of strongholds in Oultrejourdain, the territory East of the river Jordan. Baldwin I King of Jerusalem ordered its construction in 1115 to control the caravan routes between Syria and Egypt.
Perched on a conical hilltop, it had a well shaft inside that could be accessed via 375 steps down to the water vein, an unparalleled advantage during a siege. In fact, Montreal managed to hold out longer (until May 1189) against Saladin's attacks than the Crusader's main castle Kerak.
The fortress remained in Ayyubid hands for 70 years. They fortified the walls, and embellished the complex with carved inscriptions, palatial quarters and gardens. From 1262 on, the Mamelukes made Shobak their administrative center in South Jordan. Later modifications and also damages are related to the military actions of the Ottomans (19th century) and the settlement of a dozen families until modem times.
Nevertheless the remaining ruins are still impressive, and the castle and its surroundings are definitely "one of the most pristine stretches of the Jordanian landscape," in the words of architect and artist Ammar Khammash. As a visitor one can enjoy the ruins in visual dialogue with the astounding panoramic views, "windows whistling in the wind, partially collapsed openings squeezing the outside glare to draw shapes of sun on flooring stones, and rooms where the end wall has fallen in the deep valley below."
via King's Highway
approx. 125 km south of Kerak,
50 km south of Tafilah
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Compilation of information, editing, translations, and all photos: Universes in Universe.