Sean’s favorite castle, I think, was Shobak castle in Jordan. The coolest part about all these old ruins is that you can climb around wherever you want within them! It is very loosely controlled, and you are free to explore to your heart’s content. Believe me, explore we did! Shobak was located between Dana and Petra, so it was the perfect stop for adventure. The weather here was cold, like 55 degrees during the day, always with a little wind and a lot of sun; the perfect weather to turn your face into a hardened, chapped, strip of cowhide. It is amazing how much water you have to drink here, it is so easy to get dehydrated.
Here is the view of Shobak castle as we approached it. What a good location, being built on a hill, able to see for miles. The whole time we were there we only saw around ten other people; it was really eerie! Once we got to the castle, I had read in the guide book that there was a “dungeon-like cave” underneath the castle, which Sean jumped at the opportunity to explore. We borrowed a flashlight from the guards at the front of the castle, and began to traipse the rafters, climb the rocky outcroppings, and eventually descended into the depths…
I really wish I could caption these pictures with an intelligent recollection of each part of the castle, but unfortunately I cannot. I could INVENT a story for you, if that would prove to be just as entertaining! Hmmm… let’s see… where Sean is standing in this photo is the Mamluks used to perform sacrifices to the god of the Green Bay Packers…
And this tower is holy shrine to the Green Bay Packers.
Okay, enough about the Packers. I DO think that this was the passageway where they stored their weapons. There were many small rooms with the slit-styled windows for archers to shoot at opposing forces.
My father, basking in the glory of the moment.
This I can accurately reference; the script was praising Allah, and was erected during the Muslim control of the castle. It was initially a crusader castle, and then was conquered by Saladin. It was under Saladin that this script was placed here.
I also recall that this room was at one time a church.
Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to the CRYPT! This completely black tunnel led down 365 steps underneath the castle. At the end there was a cistern for storing water, and a ladder that brought you outside next to the castle.
Unfortunately, due to the horrifying nature of feeling like you were stumbling down someone’s esophagus, we didn’t make it to the cistern. I am responsible for us turning back early. It was the scariest moment of our entire trip in Jordan. (Let’s make one thing clear: This tunnel was entirely pitch black. The light from these pictures is from the camera flash. You’d be scared, too.)
This was the man we borrowed the flashlight from. He is the guard of the temple. He is a Bedouin, and this is a Bedouin instrument he created. My mother didn’t enter the crypt/pit/tunnel with us, and when we returned to find her, she was sitting with this man drinking tea and listening to his music! It was pretty awesome.
Overall, Shobak was a great experience. There is so much Muslim/Christian overlap in places that is interesting historically, culturally, artistically, and architecturally. ( I suppose all that stuff falls under the ‘culture’ banner, wouldn’t it?)
STAY TUNED: PETRA IS COMING IN A FEW DAYS!