I would like to present a great guided tour in Israel following the crusaders,
Two hundred years of their presence in the Holy land, the crusaders built several dozen fortresses. One of the most important and impregnable is the Belvoir fortress-is well preserved to this day. Its French name - "Beautiful view" - speaks for itself. One glance at the location of this fortress is enough to understand its strategic significance.
The fortress is located at the top of a steep slope that ends in the Jordan river valley, at an altitude of 300 meters above sea level. And just two kilometers to the East and 500 meters below, at an altitude of 200 meters below sea level, the road passes through this very Jordan valley.
Today it is the longest road in Israel – route 90, connecting the North and South of the country. In ancient times, during the time of the crusaders, a trade caravan route ran along with it, going North to Damascus, and South to Arabia. This was also one of the main routes of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The climate in these parts is hot, water is scarce. But this road runs along the river, which does not dry up even in summer, which gave it special importance. Who sits above the road, and one of her monitors, as a tour guide in Israel I love this road not only driving but also exploring more and more places.
So the monks-Hospitallers chose one of the peaks and built an impregnable fortress with all the necessary military equipment, supplies of food, and, most importantly, water. The fortress protected the Crusader Kingdom from attack from the East. From it came groups of knights attacking the faithful going to Mecca, which caused acute hatred of the Muslims. Sultan Saladin tried many times to capture the fortress of Belvoir but in vain. It was built very well and it is definitely exciting even me over and over again during my guided tours in Israel while visiting sites related to the crusaders.
Belvoir fortress rests on a basalt monolith. On three sides (from the North, West, and South) it is surrounded by a deep 12-meter ditch cut in this basalt. All the fortifications were built from the stone extracted during the digging of the moat. At the corners of an almost perfect square are tall watchtowers. Between them are walls of solid black basalt. When the enemy approached, the defenders of the fortress burned a wooden bridge that hung over the moat, cutting off the enemy's approach to the gates and walls. The attackers could only descend into the moat and run into a basalt monolith. Wall-battering machines were useless here, and it was not possible to climb the sheer wall of the moat.
What about the fourth side, the East? To the East is a 500-meter cliff. It was from there that the magnificent view of the Jordan valley and all the movements of the Muslim troops opened. But also in this direction were built fortress walls and an additional tower-the Barbican (which in Latin means "Outpost"). But no longer on a monolith, but on a mountain slope. And this cliff turned out to be the Achilles ' heel of an impregnable fortress.
The talented Muslim commander Saladin in 1180 besieged Belvoir for the first time, but could not take it. How many defenders remained there after the defeat of the crusaders at Carney Hittin in July 1187, we do not know, but there could not have been many of them. Probably a few dozen. Saladin came here with an army and siege weapons in March 1188. But by May, he had retreated again. The fortress stood. But in the winter of 1189, it was time for the third attack on the fortress. This time the Muslims started an engineering war. Since the Eastern tower was standing on the ground, and not on a basalt monolith, they managed to dig under it – and the tower fell from the cliff. The small number of defenders of the fortress could not prevent this. They stopped resisting and surrendered. Saladin was magnanimous and allowed them to enter tire with their weapons and Treasury. And he ordered to restore the wall on the site of the breach and placed his garrison in it.
During the Second Crusader Kingdom, Belvoir lost its strategic importance and was abandoned. But to prevent the crusaders from taking possession of it, the Muslims tried to destroy the walls – and failed. They caused only minor damage to the fortress walls. Time has done its destructive work for them. But even today the Belvoir fortress looks very impressive,
this is just one site included in my guided tours in Israel, continue reading more articles on my tour guide in Israel blog.
this site is unique, not many people will visit this thrilling place but I truly recommend to visit it while taking one of my guided tours in Israel.