Lesson #136: Fire Beacons and Crusader Castles

One of my very favourite parts of the Lord of the Rings is the part where the beacons of Gondor are lit. And that was all fun in my imagination, but Peter Jackson made it beautiful. The way that sequence was filmed was probably my favourite part of the movies, which is sort of ridiculous because it’s such a minute detail (that looked very beautiful).

Anyway, today, we drove from Amman to Petra on the King’s Highway (mostly) and checked out Madaba, Herod’s Palace at Machaerus and Kerak Castle. Kerak was occupied by many, many different people including the Moabites, the Assyrians, the Nabateans, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottomans and the crusaders. Mostly, Kerak Castle is famous for being a crusader fort.

My travel companion is a. a teacher, b. intellectually curious and c. has lived in Jordan for four years, so has been to many of these sites on more than one occasion when she has friends and family visit, so she has thrown more information at me in the last four days than I could ever hope to remember on command, but today, she came out with this gem…

The crusader castles used fire beacons to signal Jerusalem that they were safe. And other occupants of Jordanian castles, especially along the King’s highway were built at specific intervals so that they could transmit information by way of fire beacons from Cairo all the way to the Euphrates.

I geeked out really hard over that. Internally mostly, but it still happened.

Also, we saw the most awesome thing ever tonight. We got in to Petra this evening and decided that since we had the opportunity, we would do Petra by Night — wherein they put out a trail of lights all through the Siq all the way to the Treasury. Anyway, it was a beautiful clear night out…and Orion (who in every place I’ve ever lived, is already gone for the summer by this time of year) was bright as day standing guard over the entrance to the Siq. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

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