About Shobak Montreal Castle
Montreal, or Qal’at ash-Shawbak in Arabic, is a castle built by the Crusaders and expanded by the Mamluks, on the eastern side of the Arabah Valle.
History of Shobak Montreal Castle
A beautiful ancient fortress in Jordan, Shobak is a remote Crusader ruin which dates back to the early 12th century. Originally built by Baldwin I of Jerusalem, it was positioned along key trading routes and designed to control this key strategic location.
The castle was strategically important due to the fact that it also dominated the main passage from Egypt to Syria. This allowed who ever to hold the castle to tax not only traders, both those who were on pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina.
One of the major disadvantages of the site was an issue that the Crusaders encountered all over the Middle East, that issue is the lack of a reliable source of water. This problem was solved by the construction of a tunnel down the hill to two spring-fed cisterns. The tunnel allowed for defenders to go and retrieve water without exposing themselves to any attackers
It was from this location that many Crusader raids on caravan convoys were launched, leading to significant tensions in the area and eventual war. Saladin’s forces lay seige to the castle for several months before the fortress eventually fell in 1189.
After its capture, Saladin awarded it to his brother, al-‘Adil, who held it until after his brother’s death in 1193. During negotiations between the Crusaders and the Ayyubids in 1218-19, the Ayyubids unwillingness to hand back over the ownership of Montreal and Kerak was a major reason the negotiations broke down. In 1261, the Mamluk Sultan Baybars, stormed the castle bringing it under the control of Egypt.
Shobak Montreal Castle today
Today the castle lies in ruins but there is still much for the visitor to explore. The main outer walls still stand along with a number of the internal chambers, archways and passageways. As well as the ruins themselves it is possible to explore a tunnel which runs through the hillside – though this is certainly not one for the faint-hearted.
Getting to Shobak Montreal Castle
Sitting approximately 3km (2 miles) from the King’s highway, it is possible to hop on buses/ cars traversing the King’s highway and dropping off at Shobak town.
If you’d prefer more certainty, a taxi or hiring a driver should cost roughly 25-30JD for a round trip from Amman or 15JD for a roundtrip from Dana Village.
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