Qala'at alrabadh

In the pine-clad hills just north of Jerash,towering above the village of Ajlun,stands a handsome fortress from there is a splendid view westwards into the Jordan valley.It was built by the Arabs in 1184-85 as a defence against the expansionist of the Latin Kingdom.It was built on the orders of the local governor,Azz sl-Din Ausama,a cousin Ayyubid leader,Salah al-Din(Saladin),and is a superb example of Umayyad architecture.Two years after it was completed the fortress's original purpose has already been outlived,for Salah al-Din defeated the Crusaders at the battle of Hattin, which marked the beginning of the end of their occupation of the Holy Land.

In 1214-15 Qala'at al-Rabadh was enlarged by Aybak ibn Abd Allah.In 1260 it fell to the Mongols ,but was later rebuilt by the Egyptian Mamluks.No longer needed for military purposes,it was used as an administrative centre responsible to Damascus.

Some of the stones with which the castle was built have crosses carved into them,giving credence to a tradition,recounted by a thirteenth century Arab historian that:`an ancient monastery once stood on the site,inhabited by a Christian named Ajlun;when the monastery fell into ruin,the castle took its place and the name of the saint`.

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