Ajloun Print E-mail

Ajlun also written (Ajloun) is the capital of the Ajlun Governorate (although not the largest city there). A hilly town in the north of Jordan, 76 kilometers (around 47 miles) north west of Amman, it is noted for its impressive ruins, the 12th century castle which is known nowadays as Ajlun Castle.

The Ajlun Governorate has a population of over 130,000 widespread in 27 villages and towns and an area of about 420 km2 and has the following tribes: Al-Sharee, Almomani, Alsmadi, Qudah, Freihat, Zoghoul, and others. Haddad and Rabadi are the main Christian tribes in Ajloun.

People of the area are well-known for pursuing university degrees and higher education and only one college offering undergraduate degrees exists in Ajloun. Its most notable towns and villages (other than Ajlun itself) are: Al-Mrrajjam, Ain Janna, Ain-Janna, Kufranji, Anjara, Sakhra, Ibbeen and Hashimiyya.

Point of Interest

Ajlun Castle is located on the site of an old monastery. It was built in 1184 by Izz al-Din Usama, a general in the army of Saladin. The castle controlled traffic along the road connecting Damascus and Egypt and it marks the furthest limit of Frankish incursions during the Crusades.

The Mamluks added a prominent tower to the castle but was captured by the Mongols in 1260 and partially destroyed in the process. However, the Ajlun fortress became an Islamic castle that stands atop Jabal Auf, near Ajlun, in present-day northern Jordan.

The Castle’s true name, the Rabadi castle, was stripped away because it is a Christian surname. At that time Christian families had a strong presence in the city of Ajlun, but many moved from the country for better opportunities.

This huge fortress was built by Izz al-Din Usama, commander and nephew of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin), in AD 1184-1185. The fortress is considered one of the very few built to protect the country against Crusader attacks from Karak in the south and Bisan in the west.

From its hill-top location, the fortress dominated a wide stretch of the northern Jordan Valley, controlling the three main passages that led to it (Wadi Kufranjah, Wadi Rajeb and Wadi al-Yabes) and protected the communication routes between south Jordan and Syria.

It was built to contain the progress of the Latin Kingdom of Transjordan and as a retort to the castle of Belvoir on the lake of Tiberias. Another major objective of the fortress was to protect the development and control of the iron mines of Ajlun and the original castle core had four corner towers.

Arrow slits were incorporated in the thick walls and it was surrounded by a fosse averaging 16 meters (about 52 feet) in width and 12-15 meters (about 39-49 feet) in depth. After Usama's death, the castle was enlarged in AD 1214-1215 by Aibak ibn Abdullah, the Mamluk governor.

He added a new tower in the southeast corner and built the gate. The castle lost its military importance after the fall of Karak in AD 1187 to the Ayyubids. However, in the middle of the 13th century AD, the castle was conceded to Salah ad-Din Yousef ibn Ayoub, King of Aleppo and Damascus, who restored the northeastern tower and used the castle as an administrative center. In 1260 AD, the Mongols destroyed sections of the castle, including its battlements.

Soon after the victory of the Mamluks over the Mongols at Ain Jalut, Sultan ad-Dhaher Baibars restored the castle and cleared the fosse.  The castle was used as a storehouse for crops and provisions. When Izz ad-Din Aibak was appointed governor, he renovated the castle as indicated by an inscription found in the castle's south-western tower. During the Ottoman period, a contingent of 50 soldiers was set inside the castle. During the first quarter of the 17th century, Prince Fakhr ad-Din al-Ma'ni II used it during his fight against Ahmad ibn Tarbay.

He supplied the castle with a contingent and provided provisions and ammunition. In 1812, the Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt found the castle inhabited by around 40 people. Two major destructive earthquakes struck the castle in 1837 and 1927 and recently, the Department of Antiquities of Jordan sponsored a program of restoration and consolidation of the walls and has rebuilt the bridge over the fosse.

Located in the center of Ajlun is the Great Ajlun Mosque and is one of the oldest in Jordan, dating back around 800 years. In 2007 work began on improving the mosque to allow tourists to visit it.

Tell Mar Elias is located just outside the city limits, a site containing Byzantine mosaics which are uncovered during the summer months for tourists.

The Ajloun Forest Reserve is also located nearby

The Ajlun Mountains are famous for their lush vegetation and thick green forests and a good place for hikes. Its highest mountain peaks reach around 1850 meters above sea level and covered with snow throughout the winter, spring and autumn period and it’s one of the country’s most beautiful regions.

Ajlun has a Mediterranean weather rainy and snowy in winter season and pleasant in the summer time. It receives a number of snow storms per year with snow accumulations that reach up to 3 meters at times.

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