Sunday, 30 May 2010

Afternoon visit at Ajloun Castle

Yesterday we went for a small visit at Ajloun Castle. It took us about an hour from Amman to reach it. I thought it was a lovely drive, specially the stretch from Jerash, through valleys full of olive groves and pine trees. It is a very different nature up there, it reminded me a bit of Southern Europe. Ajloun is atop of the tallest mountain in Jordan: 1'240m.

On our way to Qa'lat Ar-Rabad

The Castle, formally known as Qa'lat Ar-Rabad, is a very well preserved and great exemple of Medieval Islamic architecture. It was first built in 1184 by one of Saladin's generals (who was also his nephew) to oppose the crusaders as they tried to occupy Nothern Jordan. The Castle was then further expanded in 1214 to its current configuration. So what is there to see? a dry moat, the fortified entrance gate, the south tower; inside is a succession of steps, rooms: it's like a labyrinth (and I must say it is a terrific playground - I would have loved it as kid) with vaulted passages, small and winding staircases, dining halls...

Different views of inside the Castle

From the top of the Castle, there are some very beautiful panoramic views of the Jordan Valley and Northern Jordan.



There is also a small museum inside the castle. It contains exhibits from different periods, including the pre-pottery Neolithic, the early Bronze Age, the Byzantine & the Islamic periods. The items exposed are mainly potteries, but also tools, coins...



The entry to the castle is JD1, the museum is free. You have the possibility to rent (I suppose) audio guides before the entrance to the castle - I just saw the sign! There are also a few shops selling souvenirs and a street vendor who makes excellent mint tea and strong coffee. 


A nice afternoon excursion, not too far from Amman. I liked, I think Bobs thought it was a bit boring! It's true there is nothing inside the castle, no furniture, no signs explaining where you are or the purpose of the rooms... it could be made a bit more "exciting" I suppose. There are a few other things to visit in the area - it can be a whole day excursion... Ajloun has a very old Mosque, there is Tel Mar Elias (the birthplace of St Elias - which is a meeting point for a Muslims, Jews and Christians) and also the Ajloun Nature Reserve

2 comments:

MommaBean said...

I wish you'd come before I did. We finally visited Ajloun castle after three and a half years in Jordan. In the meantime, El3atal had only taken us to see Showbak castle (if you're considering it, give it a miss if Bobs found Ajloun dull...). Sounds like you're having a good Jordan experience so far...

Babs said...

Hi MommaBean! am loving Jordan - really happy to be here :) The thing is a like old castles, old churches... so Bobs will just have to hang in there lol!! he is used to it anyways.

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