Belvoir Crusader Castle
Belvoir, meaning "beautiful view," is a Crusader castle situated on the edge of a steep slope overlooking the Jordan Valley. It was one of the most important fortresses in the country, thanks to its strategic location on the road from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan Valley. This is the only Crusader castle in Israel that has been entirely excavated, and as a result, it is especially noteworthy to visitors interested in touring Holy Land antiquities.
Belvoir has been fully reconstructed and is the most complete example of a Crusader fortress. The principle of concentric design used at Belvoir influenced castle design for the next several centuries.
Strategically, Belvoir was so strong that Saladin was unable to conquer it when he took the rest of the Crusader assets in the Holy Land. After a year and a half of siege, once the entire Crusader Kingdom fell, Belvoir's residents agreed to surrender and move to Tyre.
The moat around the castle is 20 meters wide and 14 meters deep, surrounding the fortress on three sides (a slope on the fourth side protected the rest of the structure). One of the entrances to the castle was via a drawbridge that was lowered over the moat. The moat was dry and protected the fortress from siege weaponry such as battering rams and assault towers.
Visitors will see the huge towers surrounding the castle, with bases sloping toward the bottom of the moat to prevent tunneling. They have unusually high and narrow staircases, which would have made enemy penetration more difficult. An inner fortress provided extra protection. In between the inner and outer fortresses are stables, storehouses and living spaces.
From the top of the towers, you can see the Jordan River and the hills of Gilead over the Jordanian border. If you pay attention, you may spot Griffon’s vultures, whose feeding station is north of the fortress.