Set atop a mountain, Shobak Castle is an enchanting castle that was built in 1115 under the rule of King Baldwin I. Shobak Castle is particularly striking due to its remote location in the desert which will make visitors feel a world away from home. Within the castle grounds, visitors can explore the churches, historic ruins, and a secret passageway that leads to a charming spring. The castle also boasts a watchtower, catacombs and a number of Christian carvings and Islamic tablets.
Location of Shobak Castle
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.
History of Shobak Castle
King Baldwin built Shobak Castle in 1115 as a form of defense. This crusader castle was known to the crusaders as Mont Real which means the Fortress of the Royal Mount. It stood strong in many battles until it was defeated in 1189 by Salahuddin Al-Ayyoubi, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria. In the 14th Century, the castle was taken over by the Mamluks who were Muslim soldiers. Today, visitors to the castle are greeted by staff dressed in traditional Mamluk costumes.
Things to See at Shobak Castle
The site of Shobak Castle has many things to see and visitors should allow a few hours to walk around the ruins.
There are two churches located in the castle ruins the first of which is close to the entrance. It was later reconstructed and contains a small baptistery. The second church is located just past the watchtower and contains catacombs underneath. Within the church, there are also Islamic tablets, Christian carvings and Saladin’s throne.
Well and Spring
This ancient well is cut into a deep rock. There are 375 steps leading down to the bottom of the well. Visitors can walk down this staircase which leads to a spring. The spring feeds the area and surrounding villages.
When the Mamluks overtook Shobak Castle they renovated one of the larger buildings into a school. The remains of the school sit within a two-story building located close to the well. Other notable buildings at Shobak Castle include a prison, watchtowers and the royal court.
How to Visit Shobak Castle
Entrance to Shobak castle is 1JD (1.41USD). Those visitors who have purchased the Jordan Pass can visit Shobak Castle for free. It is open during the hours of daylight so times vary depending on the season. Local guides are available to hire at the entrance gate for 10JD (14.10 USD).
Shobak Castle is one of Jordan’s most famous crusader castles. There are a number crusader castles in Jordan, each designed to look out for incoming invaders. Although all that remains of the site is ruins, Shobak Castle has been well preserved and visitors will find some interesting artifacts. Due to its close proximity, a visit to the castle can also be combined together with Petra as part of an extended day trip.