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“loved it”
Review of Shobak Castle

Shobak Castle
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Private Full-Day Crusader Castles of Shobak and Karak Trip via the Kings...
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Perched in a wild, remote landscape, Shobak Castle wins over even the most castle-weary, despite being less complete than its sister fortification at Karak. Formerly called Mons Realis (the Royal Mountain), it was built by the Crusader king Baldwin I in AD 1115. Restoration work is ongoing and hopefully this will include some explanatory signs. In the meantime, the caretaker shows visitors around for about JD10. Bring a torch for exploring the castle’s many dark corners. Built on a small knoll at the edge of a plateau, Shobak Castle is especially imposing when seen from a distance. It withstood numerous attacks from the armies of Saladin before succumbing in 1189 (a year after Karak), after an 18-month siege. It was later occupied in the 14th century by the Mamluks, who built over many of the Crusader buildings. As you climb up from the entrance, there are some wells on the left. Soon after passing these, you’ll see the reconstructed church, one of two in the castle, down to the left. It has an elegant apse supported by two smaller alcoves. The room leading off to the west was the baptistery; on the north wall there are traces of water channels leading from above. Returning to the main path, turn left. After passing under the arches, a door leads into the extensive market. Turn left and descend 375 steps into an amazing secret passageway that leads to a subterranean spring, finally surfacing via a ladder outside the castle, beside the road to Shobak town. Tread carefully, use a torch and don’t even think about coming down here if you’re claustrophobic. Alternatively, continue past the tunnel for 50m and you’ll pass a large two-storey building with archways, built by the Crusaders but adapted by the Mamluks as a school. At the northern end of the castle is the semicircular keep with four arrow slits. Outside, dark steps lead down to the prison. Head to the northeast corner of the castle to see Quranic inscriptions, possibly dating from the time of Saladin, carved in Kufic script around the outside
London, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“loved it”
Reviewed August 15, 2014

Not a lot a tourist and thats makes the palce special. Take your time to walk around and enjoy the scenery. You go back in time

Visited April 2014
Thank haptoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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497 reviews from our community

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English first
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“A welcome relief after Petra”
Reviewed July 25, 2014

After poorly managed, expensive and shambolic Petra, nearby Showbak Castle is a welcome relief after Petra. For a start, it doesn't cost EUR 50 minimum per person, as it was totally free to enter.

It was not hard to find from the town of Showbak (although note that there are about six spelling variants in transliteration, and the road signs always differ slightly), as you can see it from some distance being a castle with clear vantage over a great area.

Upon arrival we were welcomed by the manager of the historic site, and taken into his office to sign the guest book. He told us a bit about the site and the problem that they are having in attracting tourists, although they are just a short distance from Petra which gets a ridiculous number of tourists every month.

Personally I think the lack of independent tourists in Jordan means that Showbak Castle is largely dependent on the whims of coach tour operators. We travelled in Jordan before the recent ISIS-affiliated protests started in Ma'an, and even then I doubt few people would have rented a car and gone off on their own like we did. There was no danger, but without any knowledge of Arabic (I have a little), locals that favour dangerous driving (my Moroccan Arabic teacher said even she wouldn't drive in Jordan, and she's a tough cookie) and so few road signs that you have to navigate on instinct, few Western people will want to travel independently in Jordan.

The manager of the site showed us around the little museum they had put together, and of some of the artifacts (mostly 20th century) and other things like locally grown camomile tea that were for sale, all at reasonable prices.

We walked up to the castle, only a short distance from the visitor centre, which had an amazing view. Like most sites in Jordan, little is signposted, so you don't know what you're looking at. We merrily explored the different levels of the place anyway, finding fellows dressed up in crusader gear, with swords or bows and arrows, all about the place. Only one of them spoke much English but they were all very happy to pose for photos. You could tell they were very proud of the castle. I wonder if they were paid to be there or if they were volunteers.

Apparently there is a well that has stairs that you can take to exit the castle outside the wall. One of the fellows in crusader gear, who spoke English, wanted to lead us down. He only had one flashlight and the stairs were covered in sand, so with our dodgy knees we didn't want to risk falling, so we turned back after about 30 steps.

As we were leaving, we were greeted by an old Bedouin man who wanted to know where we were from and practice as many languages as he could speak with us. When he found out that we were not married, he lead me to his souvenir stall and tried to find one of the old tarnished bronze rings that he had for sale to fit my finger. This was, refreshingly after Petra, not a hardsell but a gift, with the wishes that within a week or two we would be married.

This site receives a fraction of the visitors of Petra, but for the warm welcome and effort the men are putting in, they deserve a hundred times as many!

Visited May 2014
1 Thank Zoodle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
186 reviews
55 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 245 helpful votes
“Mamluk additions and numerous original Crusader features”
Reviewed July 13, 2014

Shawbak is a strategically located 12th-century Crusader castle, perched on a hill. It is imposing when seen from a distance, although less complete than Karak - little remains of the original Crusader fortification - its isolated location lends a real sense of atmosphere. This is compounded by its many dark corners, the amazing secret passageway that leads to a subterranean spring, the dark steps leading down to the low-ceilinged prison make for an intriguing visit. Parts of the reconstructed towers and walls are decorated with carved inscriptions.

Visited March 2014
Thank Veggiemel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sterling Heights, Michigan
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Worth the hike”
Reviewed June 30, 2014

A must see. Also, don't miss the Turkish coffee in the little shop near the gate. Excellent! The shop sells local handcrafts and has a small museum.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank 47Patricia781
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zwolle, The Netherlands
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“a must see if you like castles”
Reviewed June 22, 2014

If you likes castles, like I do, shobak castle is a must see. Unlike Karak castle it lies not in a town. It lies desolate on the top of a mountain. There was almost nobody so you have almostl the castle for yourself. The views are great. There was no entrance fee. We came with our own car (rented...) from Karak. It was easy to find. Beware of the last ca. 500 meters driving up. The road is very smal and I was very, very happy that nobody came from the opposite

Visited June 2014
Thank Bart v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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