Ajlun Castle



Qal`at Al-Rabad (Ajlun Castle) is one of the best preserved fortified structures in Jordan. In AH 580 (CE 1184/5) `Izz ad-Din Usama ibn Munqidh, a commander and nephew of Salah ad-Din al-`Iyyubi (Saladin), built a small fortress on the site. From its situation, with views as far as Isreal, the fortress dominated a wide stretch of the northern Jordan valley, controlling the three main passages to it (Wadi Kufranjah, Wadi Rajeb, and Wadi al-Yabes) and protected the communication routes between south Jordan and Syria. It was built to contain the progress of the Latin Kingdom (the Popes crusaders) in Trans-Jordan. From this stronghold he drove the crusaders out of Jordan.


Salah-ad-Din also wanted to develop and control the iron mines of the `Ajlun. The original castle had four corner towers, arrow slits and a deep fosse.


After Usama’s death, the castle was enlarged in AH 611 (CE 1214/5) by Aibak Ibn `Abdallah, major domo of al Mu-azzam `Isa. He added a new tower in the south east corner and built the gate, which is decorated with pigeon reliefs. In the middle of the 7th century AH, 13th century CE, the castle was ceded to Salah ad-Din Yousef ibn Ayoub, King of Aleppo and Damascus, who restored the north eastern tower.


In 1260 CE, the Mongols destroyed sections of the castle including its battlements. Soon after the victory of the Mamluks over the Mongols at `Ain Jalut, Sultan al-Dhaher Baibars restored the castle and cleared the fosse. The castle was used as a storehouse for crops and provisions. `Izz ad-Din Aibak was appointed governor. He renovated the castle as is indicated by an inscription found in the south western tower.


In the Ottoman period a contingent of fifty soldiers was set up in the castle. During the first quarter of the 17th century CE, Prince Fakhr ad-Din al-Ma’ni II used it during his fight against Ahmad ibn Tarbay. He supplied the castle with a contingent and provided provisions and ammunition. In 1812 the castle was inhabited by about forty people of the Barakat family.


Two major destructive earthquakes struck the castle in 1837 and 1927 but the Jordan Department of Antiquities has an ongoing program of restoration and consolidation of the site.


















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