Jordan is a country with so much to see. If you are interested in history, culture and archaeology then planning a trip to Jordan should definitely be on your to-do list! And when you’re there, head to Karak Castle. It’s a historical landmark well worth seeing. So here’s everything you need know in order to make the most of your castle trip…
What is Karak Castle?
Karak Castle is a crusader castle, located in al-Karak (or Kerak) in Jordan. Construction began in the 1140s. It was commissioned by Pagan, the Lord of Oultrejordain, and Fulk (the Younger) who was King of Jerusalem at the time.
The castle was the centre of Pagan’s power. It was used to control the bedouin herders and the trade routes form Damascus to Egypt and Mecca, due to its position east of the Dead Sea. In time, towers and rock-cut ditches were added for further protection to protect the north and south sides. You can still see the north wall with its arched halls – one of the most typically Crusader-style bits of architecture that remains at Karak Castle. These arched halls were used for a variety of things: stables, living quarters and fighting galleries to name a few.
Karak Castle today is described as a lively tourist destination. It is not in the best condition, and therefore missed out on a UNSECO Wold Heritage Site award. But it is, of course, still worth visiting if you’re in Jordan!
TOP TIP: if you can, get to the castle as early as possible. It is open from 8am – 7pm daily except for weekends, when it closes at 4pm on Saturdays and 5pm on Sundays.
Getting to the castle
If you are staying in the city of Karak, then you can walk or catch a taxi to the castle. There are other things to see in the area and the castle overlooks this interesting area of Jordan.
But chances are, you won’t be staying in Karak. The easiest way to get to Karak Castle is from the nearby city of Amman. This is Jordan’s capital, a mixture of modern city and ancient ruin – as well as home to Mujemma Al-Janoob, otherwise known as the South Bus Station. From here you can take a minibus (they leave when they are full, so you may have to wait a while) and take a couple of hours. The minibus costs around 2 JD, and while drop you off just below the castle. If you feel up to it then you can walk up to Karak Castle from here, or jump in a taxi for a further 2 JD. It will take around 20 minutes to walk down, which is much easier than walking up.
Taxis (private or shared) are easily accessible in Jordan. Drivers will be happy to take you from city to city for an arranged fee – it is worth asking locals or hotel staff for advice. For example, if you are staying in Aqaba but want to visit Petra, Madaba and Karak Castle on your way to Amman then a taxi is the best way of doing so. Alternatively, car hire in Jordan is simple too!
The final way of getting to Karak Castle is on a guided tour. Whether you choose a full day or even an overnight tour, it is a great way of taking the hassle out of planning everything yourself. You’re still getting to see the best bits of Jordan including this fantastic crusader castle, though!
Other things to do near Karak Castle
Alongside the castle itself, there is actually a lot to do in Karak. Don’t miss the Karak Archaeological Museum inside the west wing of the castle! There is pottery on display, coins, skeletons and more. And once you’ve explored the ruins, restored tunnels and incredible views at Karak Castle, head into the city and check out what it has to offer…
- The Tomb of Noah (also known as ‘Prophet Nuh shrine’) can be found on a hilltop in the centre of Kerak. Reportedly, this is the tomb of Noah – the one who survived the famous flood in both the Bible and the Quran.
- The Old City has a lot to see and do. There is a Roman church hall, local shops selling fabrics and jewellery as well as places to eat. Kir Hebes is a favourite among visitors looking for local Jordanian food and wine. But if you want cheap and cheerful schwarma then head to the aptly named ‘Delicious Meal’.
- Wadi Bin Hammad is a bit further out, but worth it if you have plenty of time in Jordan. Favoured by locals rather than other travellers, it is an amazing spot for hiking. It is around 30 km away from Karak, and perfect for relaxed exploring. There are waterfalls, hot springs and access to the Dead Sea if hike a little further.
When to visit the area
Spring and autumn are the ideal times to visit Karak, and indeed Jordan as a whole. March-May and September-November are perfect. It’s not too hot and spring often brings wildflowers as well as sunshine! Try and visit outside of school holiday season, of course. This is always quieter no matter where you are travelling to…
TOP TIP: entrance to Karak Castle itself is 2 JD or FREE with the Jordan Pass. If you are backpacking, you will be able to leave large bags at the guard point though do keep your valuables with you at all times.
So that’s everything you need to know about Karak Castle, and planning a trip to see it. Jordan really is jam-packed with history and it is somewhere that is SO worth a visit. Pack your comfortable shoes and some good sunglasses, and you’ll be good to go!