Shoubak Castle, formerly known as Montreal Castle or Mont Real is a crusader fortress on the eastern side of the Arava Valley, on a conical mountain, with a splendid view of the valley and next to the modern city of Shawbak, on the Way of the Kings, south of Jordan.
The castle was built in 1115 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem during an expedition to the region, during which he captured Aqaba, in the Red Sea in 1116. It was originally called Crac de Montreal (Mons Regalis in Latin, always in honor of the king, already that its translation is “monte real”).
Until 1141, it was under the control of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Later became part of Transjordan. In May 1189, after a long siege, he was captured by Saladin.
Structure : Little remains of the original crusader castle, irregular, with a maximum amplitude of 175 by 90 meters. Although it has never been entirely excavated, it is known that there were a series of three walls that remain partially. There is a church and a chapel of the Crusaders, plus several civil buildings built with stones from a nearby quarry. The towers and walls are decorated with engraved inscriptions dating from the renovations of the Mamluks in the fourteenth century, but the interior is in ruins. Under the walls, a gentle tiled slope surrounds the castle. Near the entrance, a well with about 350 slippery steps descends to a spring.
As for recently, in August of 2011, a study funded by the European Union concluded that all plans and programs to link the Al-Shoubak Castle with the Petra Archaeological Reserve are within a single tourist path that ensures the movement of tourist groups between the two historical sites. The significance of this study prepared by the European Union-funded “Links for Growth” project, which included the inclusion of Al-Shoubak Castle that dominated the Crusader era in the region and which attracts the interest of many European tourists with Petra in a common path, so that the tourists coming to visit a reserve are linked and brought Petra archaeological visit to Al-Shoubak Castle within the tour itself.
The ruins of the hilltop castle lie on a conical mountain above the Edom plain on the pilgrim and caravan route from Syria to Arabia. The important trade route at this point led from the Dead Sea to the Arava Valley and from there to Aqaba on the Red Sea.
Access : Coordinates: 30.5313, 35.56 / Shobak Castle is located along the famous King’s Highway, some 118 miles away from the capital city of Amman. A car journey from Amman to Shobak Castle will take around two hours and 35 minutes, and the city of Madaba is located two hours and 25 minutes away. The site is only a 40-minute drive from the renowned historic site of Petra.
- Al-Shoubak Castle consists of multiple buildings of white stone, and there are still remnants of bathrooms, tanks, water pipes, basements, and stone stones for the olive era, wells, roads, stairs, gates, arches, and iwan which is a large rectangular hall, dimensions 13 meters At 6 meters it is located on the northeastern side of the castle, and it has three galleries, and on the southwest side there is a well that can be descended through a spiral path. In addition to the castle contains two churches, and nine towers, including circular, rectangular and square, and the castle was decorated with some writings and decorations.
- Churches : There are two churches located in the castle ruins the first of which is close to the entrance.
- Mamluk School : When the Mamluks overtook Shobak Castle they renovated one of the larger buildings into a school.
Entrance fees : 1JD (1.41USD) / open during the hours of daylight so times vary depending on the season.
Activities : Ancient Culture Study / sightseeing / photo opportunities / trekking, from the highway it is a 20 min direct hike / Local guides are available to hire
Go next : Dana Nature Reserve is in Jordan, 88 km south of Kerak. / Madaba — known as the ‘City of Mosaics’ for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics / Wadi Mujib — great nature reserve famous for its impressive canyons / Petra — The most famous site in Jordan. / Wadi Rum , a spectacularly scenic desert valley in southern Jordan. / Qusayr ‘Amra , the best-known of the desert castles located in present-day eastern Jordan / Qasr Al-Kharanah , one of the best-known of the desert castles located in eastern Jordan