K is for Kerak


Photo credit: paulianthomas, www.trekearth.com

Photo credit: paulianthomas, http://www.trekearth.com

al-Karak, just southeast of the Dead Sea, is most famous for the impressive Crusader castle, Karak. The area, once a Kingdom, has been inhabited since the Iron Age. From the first glimpse, the impressive silhouette of the fortified city and the castle will take your breath away. It’s easy to see why the fates of kings and nations were decided here for millenia.

The writers of the Bible identified it as Qer (or Kir) Harreseth, a part of the Assyrian Empire. The Moabites, who lived there called it Qir of Moab. Kerak is mentioned in 2 Kings 16:9 (And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin), Amos 1:5 (I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the Lord.), and 9:7 (Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?)

Karak castle figures prominently in the rebellion of King Mesha against Jehoram, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel. (2 Kings 3:4)

Photo credit: Kostan, www.trekearth.com

Photo credit: Kostan, http://www.trekearth.com

Since the days of the Byzantine Empire, Kerak and the area has remained predominantly Christian. Under the Byzantines it was an important bishopric at the honored Church of Nazareth.

Fulk, the Crusader king of Jerusalem had the Kerak castle built in 1132. They managed to hold it for forty-six years until Saladin’s army held them under siege for more than a year. The castle is remarkably well preserved and draws thousands of visitors every year.

Here are a few of my own pictures from Karak:

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