Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle Aerial View

Belvoir Castle is situated 27 km (17 mi) South of Tiberias. This magnificent citadel still impresses with its perfect layout and double walls that were intended to preserve the fortress and its garrison.


Location: 27 km (17 mi) South of Tiberias


Description of Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle is one of the most impressive Crusader fortress in Israel. Despite years of abandonment it still gives an idea of its original appearance and architectural beauty. It sits on top of the strategic hill  located 20 km from the Sea of Galilee. The hills measures an elevation of 500 meters above the valley of the Jordan River. Hence once of its nicknames is "Kochav Hayarden" or "Star of the Jordan". Its current name "Belvoir" can be translated as "beautiful" in French. It is also known as "Koke" or "charming" in French.


Belvoir Castle was found by the Knights Hospitallers in 1168 who baught these lands from a French nobleman Veloso. This castle was intended to keep the borders of the Crusaders Kingdom defended against Muslim invasions. Its perfect symmetrical features were copied from other French castles back in Europe. Only lower layers of brickwork have survived today, but even they give an idea about original layout and appearance.


Belvoir Castle was surrounded by an outer wall with protective towers (reached a height of 7 meters) at its corners. Length of the outer wall measures 480 meters. Protective water filled moat of Belvoir Castle measured at 20 meters in width..


Belvoir Castle was attacked and besieged in 1180, but it survived the attack. Crusaders' defeat from the Saladin at the battle of the Horns of Hittin opened doors to the whole Saracen army. Their leader famous Saladin besieged Belvoir Castle repeatedly until he did not manage to capture it in 1189 after a year long siege. Saladin showed mercy and respect of defenders' tenacity and courage sparing both the structure and few Crusaders that were left alive after the battle's end. Continuous attacks from the European armies forced Muslim rulers to send a small army from Damascus to dismantl Belvoir Castle in 1217- 18 so it could not be used by invaders. Dispite their best attempts lower levels of the castle are well preserved. It gives and impression of the whole military complex that once stood here.


In 1996 archaeological excavations began on a site of Belvoir Castle. Today medieval citadel is open to the public. Its underground structures are particularly interesting since they are the best preserved part of the fortress.