Even if Kerak Castle had nothing else going for it, the fact it was built by the Crusader Lord Pagan the Butler would make it rather special. Yes Pagan the Butler.
Before getting to Kerak this morning we viewed 6th Century mosaics in Maddaba and Mount Nebo; looked out over the holy land from the spot where Moses is supposed to have done the same; and viewed a couple of enormously deep clefts in the ground including the lowest spot below sea-level.
But Kerak was the highlight of the day. It’s not terribly imposing from the outside; it rather straggles over the top of the hill above the town. It’s when you get inside that it comes into its own – especially with kids. For a start, the view is imposing to say the least, you can see for tens of miles in every direction. There’s no question old Pagan chose the spot for his castle wisely.
The very best thing, though, is that the Castle is a warren of rooms and passages. Cracks and light holes have slanting beams of light giving glimpses of hidden corners. Vaulted pathways go in every direction. Little darkened holes in the walls turn out to be stairways or rooms with mysterious purposes. The dungeons just feel like dungeons should; although it has to be said that the bedrooms also feel like dungeons should. A guide threw a piece of lighted newspaper down into the cisterns that provided the Castle’s water, seeing the flames recede into the deep darkness was just magical.
Kerak was a surprise because it had quite weak reviews on Tripadvisor and the like; all we can think is that the reviewers lacked kids. I would recommend it highly for anyone with kids.
In my view just as Pagan the Butler needed to borrow Richard the Lionheart’s branding consultant; Kerak needs to find a new publicist to make known how good it really is.
Unfortunately, photos will have to wait for a better internet connection.