Shouback Castle

Sunday, 20 November 2011 11:08 administrator
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 Montreal is a Crusader castle on the eastern side of the Arabah, perched on the side of a rocky, conical mountain, looking out over fruit trees below. The ruins, called Shoubak or Shawbak in Arabic, are located in modern town of Shoubak in Jordan. The castle was built in 1115 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem during his expedition to the area (during which he captured Aqaba on the Red Sea in 1116). Originally called 'Krak de Montreal' or 'Mons Regalis', it was named in honor of the king's own contribution to its construction (Mont Royal).

It was strategically located on a hill on the plain of Edom, along the pilgrimage and caravan routes from Syria to Arabia. This allowed Baldwin to control the commerce of the area, as pilgrims and merchants needed permission to travel past it. It was surrounded by relatively fertile land, and two cisterns were carved into the hill, with a long, steep staircase leading to springs within the hill itself. Little remains of the original Crusader fortifications. Although it has never been fully excavated, it is known that there was a set of three walls, which partially remain.

The towers and walls are decorated with carved inscriptions dating from 14th century Mamelukes renovations, but the inside is ruinous. Near the gatehouse, a well with over 350 dangerously slippery spirals, rock-cut steps descends to a spring. The castle is currently investigated by an Italian archaeological team of the University of Florence.