Ajloun Castle which was constructed around AD 1184 is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jordan, largely due to the role it played in the country’s complex past.
Jordan has, to a great extent, a history that is vastly different to the historical backgrounds of its neighboring countries. The history of Jordan is complex but fascinating since the region changed hands so many times during the ages. In fact, Jordan only received official independence status in 1946.
Today, Jordan attracts millions of tourists from around the world who flock to the region to visit some of our planet’s most historically valuable sights. One of the nicest things about visiting this ancient land is the fact that your historical tour of Jordan can begin just a few kilometers from the capital, or even in the capital itself.
Ajloun Castle – A Stone Throw Away From Amman
Approximately 75kms northwest of Jordan’s capital, Amman, lays the town of Ajloun, home to Ajloun Castle, one of Jordan’s most popular tourist attractions. By comparison to other forts constructed at the time, Ajloun Castle is considered to be huge, but then again, it was after all built to serve as a fortress.
A Strategically Significant Fortress Against Crusaders
Interestingly enough, Ajloun Castle was one of only a few fortresses that were built specifically for the purpose of defending the area against crusader attacks, which also explains its strategic location. Having been constructed on top of Jabal Auf, the fortress provided a formidable barrier against attacks from Bisan in the west and from Karak attacks in the south.
The fort was also significant since it allowed whoever controlled it to essentially dominate the Jordan Valley, along with the three major routes leading to the valley. It also played a key role in controlling the only route of communication between Southern Jordan and Syria.
Lastly but not least the fortress was also intended to prevent or at least contain the rapid progress of the Latin Kingdom, and to protect the valuable Ajlun iron mines in the area.
Transition From Military Stronghold To Administrative Quarters
After more than 100 years, and the eventual fall of Karak Castle, Ajloun Castle was made bigger and went on to become an administrative center for the governor of Mamluk, and later ended up in the hands of the King of Aleppo and Damascus.
From Administrative Quarters Back To Military Stronghold
Ajloun Castle enjoyed relative peace for many years, but eventually fell into the hands of the Ottoman Turks, who once again utilized the fort as a military stronghold. It remained home to a contingent of soldiers for most of the Ottoman period.
Shortly after the castle was discovered by a Swiss traveler in 1812, it became the victim of a major earthquake which caused extensive damage to the castle and effectively drove the inhabitants out. In 1927 the fortress was once again struck by a major earthquake, causing even more damage to this ancient historical relic.
Restoration Gets Underway
Recognizing its historical value and its ability to attract tourism to the area, Jordan’s Department of Antiquities has invested heavily in major restoration work, and today most of Ajloun Castle is open to visitors. Providing tourists stick to those areas of the castle which are open to visitors, they’re free to wonder around at leisure.
The castle is nowadays also home to a museum which houses countless artifacts, all of which relate to various time periods throughout the castle’s existence. Experienced guides can also be arranged, either on site or through any professional tour operator.
Ajloun Castle is certainly not the top tourist attraction in Jordan, but its historical relevance and its convenient location make it an attraction not to be missed.
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