Ajlun and its castle
Ajlun & its castle (Qala’at ar-Rabadh)
Ajlun is a hilly town in the north of Jordan, 73 km from the capital Amman. Known for its castle and paradise-like nature, Ajlun is one of the main natural and historical attractions in Jordan.
The town’s name is derived from the Moabite king Eglon who was mentioned in the Bible. Ajlun has Mediterranean weather, lush vegetation, mountains, and thick green forests, which makes it a great place for hiking through thick, healthy woodlands filled with oak, pistachio, and oriental strawberry trees. Halfway through your hike, you can observe wine and olive presses from the Byzantine and Roman eras.
Aside from hiking, your visit to Ajlun can enrich your historical knowledge.
Atop of mount Auf, in the hills north-west of Jerash, overlooking the town of Ajlun, stands a handsome fort; Qala’at ar-Rabadh, which affords fine views over the Jordan Valley. A 13th-century Arab writer told of ‘an ancient monastery’ here, and William of Tyre mentioned a ‘small fortress’, captured by the Crusaders in 1139. Some incised crosses, and a recently discovered chapel with a mosaic floor (probably 8th-century), give credence to the tradition of a Christian Arab origin.
The purpose of the present fort was anti-Crusader, built in 1184-85 by ‘Izz ad-Din Usama, one of Saladin’s generals. This fortress controlled traffic along the route connecting Damascus and Egypt. Moreover, this castle helped the authorities in Damascus to control the Bedouin tribes of Jabal ‘Auf, and to protect their realm against Crusader incursions, which used to come from Beisan in the west and Kerak in the south. It dominated a wide stretch of the northern part of Jordan Valley, as well as protected the development and control of the iron mines of Ajlun.
This superb piece of Ayyubid military architecture soon outlived its original purpose – in 1187 the Crusaders’ defeat at Hattin in Galilee ended their occupation of the Holy Land.
In 1214-15 the castle was enlarged by ‘In ad-Din Aybak, for the Ayyubid Sultan al-Malik al-Mu’azzam, to become one of tile chain of beacons and pigeon stations relaying messages between Damascus and Cairo and, in 1219, housing supplies for use against the fifth Crusade. In 1260 it fell to the Mongols but was restored by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars.
Its later history is sketchy -repaired in the 17th century; visited by J. L. Burckhardt in 1812; damaged in an earthquake in 1837; and repaired by Ibrahim Pasha. It was recently repaired and restored by Jordan’s Department of Antiquities.
Slightly outside the limits and northwest of Ajlun, you will reach the archaeological mound of Tell Mar Elias; as mentioned in the bible as the residence and possibly the birthplace of prophet Elijah. As you reach the visitors’ centre, you will find modern stairways that will ease access to the archaeological remains of two churches and adjacent buildings on the top of the hill.
Tell Mar Elias is one of the holy places visited by believers from all over the globe. you will witness their belief in the little pieces of cloth left on the trees on the site.
Ajlun has different types of accommodation away from hotels luxury. The experience of sleeping in one of the cabins in Ajlun reserve or a tent in Barqash forest is unforgettable and is also one of the many ways you can contribute to helping the local community. Your visit to Ajlun is guaranteed to be outstanding as you will enjoy the calmness and purity of nature away from the noisiness of modern cities.
Do not forget to include Ajlun in your upcoming visit to Jordan!
Ticket Window Opening Hours:
Winter: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Summer: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Site Closing Hours:
Winter: 5:00 PM
Summer: 6:00 PM
Not accessible for the disabled.