#144 Belvoir Castle
Kaukab al-Hawa "Star of the Winds" [Arabic]
Kochav HaYarden "Star of the Jordan" [Yiddish]
Northern District, Israel
This is NOT an official Lego site
concentric castle was built in 1168 by the Grand Master of the Order of
the Knights of St. John [or Hospitallers], Gilbert of Assailly [near
Lyon, France]. The land, about 12 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, was
purchased by the Knights Hospitaller from Velos, a French nobleman.
The castle stands 1,600 feet above the Jordan River Valley, commanding
the route into the Kingdom of Jerusalem from Gilead. It is the
best preserved castle in Israel, though when visited by T. E. Lawrence
(of Arabia) it was still considered to be a simple, single enclosure
castle. Lawrence wrote in his 1936 Crusader Castles [Immel
Publishing] "At Belvoir, Rey declares that there are traces of a square
keep inside the ditch and wall, and this of course if true would be
somewhat puzzling: neither Mr. Pirie-Gordon nor myself however could
find the slightest trace of its existence. Rey was probably deceived by
the wall of some Arab house."
Archaeologist E. G.
Rey (1837-1916) would prove in the end to be much more observant than
the 21 year old T.
E. Lawrence. Between 1963 and 1968 the Israel Department of Antiquities
discovered that Belvoir was much more complex: an early example of the
concentric castle plan that was used not only in later Crusader Castles,
but notably by Edward I in Wales. The castle was highly symmetrical with
square towers at the corners of both the outer and inner castles, and
curtain towers on all sides of the outer wall, especially at the complex
entrance. Belvoir was to influence the design of castles for
centuries to come.
|At the time Belvoir was being built, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, Salah ad-Din Yusuf (aka Saladin) had forged a truce with the Kingdom of Jerusalem following his defeat by the knight Raynald of Châtillon, who had stayed in the Holy Land after the unsuccessful 2nd Crusade [1145-9]. Raynald however continued to hinder shipping and attacked caravans. Saladin besieged the city of Tiberias in 1187 and foolishly King Guy of Jerusalem took his army to meet him at the Horns of Hattin outside Tiberias, where Saladin scored a resounding victory. Saladin next captured Jerusalem then sent his army to besiege Belvoir. Fortunately the winter rains soon came and the muddy and demoralized Muslim army soon gave up the siege. Saladin returned in the spring of 1188 and on January 5, 1189, Belvoir surrendered. An Arab governor occupied Belvoir until 1219, when the Ayyubid ruler in Damascus slighted the castle. It was ceded back to the Franks in 1241 but abandoned in 1263 following the victories of Mamluk Sultan Baibars of Egypt. Belvoir was an Arab village when it was abandoned during the 1947-8 war. The Israelis soon removed all traces of the Arab presence.|
One of the surviving
A panorama of
the ruin [Google Maps offers an impressive walk-about]
||A cellar in the castle|
Pre-excavation Plan from
T. E. Lawrence' 1936
book Crusader Castles
|Floor Plan from Hugh
Kennedy's 1994 book
|Floor Plan with key|
Drawing at Belvoir
National Park in Israel
drawing of what Belvoir
might have looked like
of the Lego Model
under construction beginning August
On August 28,
Belvoir Castle is laid
out with minor adjustments made for
the availability of tan slopes.
|The ditch seems more
on the north and west sides, so the
model is thusly laid out.
After a bit
more building, I've
decided the inner castle needs to be
defined so the center is filled with
vertical and horizontal supports...
both the inner face of
the outer castle and the outer face of
the inner castle are defined.
On Labor Day,
September 1, the
switchback main entrance passage
is mostly completed...
...as is the
secondary bridge entrance
on the west face of the castle.
September 10 and I've raised
the walls of both the outer & inner
castles. All the doors are installed and
many arrowslits are being added.
On Sept. 12
I've enough built to
begin to roof the outer walls
which contain the stables and
level of the Eastern Tower
also now has a floor
19 the cistern
and knights' bath is complete...
is real sense about
how the inner courtyard will look.
switchback entrance ramp is
embattled, but with 2-wide crenels
separating the merlons.
work on the western gate
bridge is also done - and parts
oven outside the
kitchen is heating up.
roofing of the outer
castle is complete...
construction of the inner
On October 25
the inner courtyard
is virtually complete...
roofing of the inner castle
begins. Bands of nervous arabs
are checking out the progress.
On October 29
the western bridge
is complete -- and guarded.
Hospitallers, Teutonic knights and
other keep a wary eye on the
of the Lego Model
Built August - November, 2014
|The castle's main
protected by the West Tower,
bristling with arrowslits...
...and a fortified ramp
|The entrance is also
by the NW tower which rivals the
donjon in size.
|The secondary entrance is
the east side - a bridge crossing
the wide dry moat.
|Here is the view from the
which gives nice display of the
|The deep ditch/moat also
along the south side of the castle.
|The south face returns
to open hilltop.
|The view of Belvoir from
Here is a
close-up of the
fortified main gate.
from the West Tower courtyard.
|The bridge over the dry
to the East Gate.
|There are also three
|Here is a detail of the
the West Tower.
The door into
|Detail of the cistern and the bath.||The inner East Tower
both as the main entrance to the
Inner Castle and as the Donjon.
|The postern door of the
Castle opens near the cistern.
The east half
of the Inner
Courtyard with main entrance
|The northwest view of the
Courtyard details the kitchen and
of the Donjon with
Watch Turret and bell to signal
prayers, meals and warnings.
have discovered that
Belvoir has been completed.
his army prepare
|The warning bell alerts
knights to prepare for battle.
not be taken in battle.
She only surrenders after a nine
Other Belvoir Castle pages:
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