Al Karak äl käräk´ [key], town (1997 est. pop. 19,000), W central Jordan. It is also known as Krak. It is a road junction and an agricultural trade center. The ancient Kir Moab (also mentioned in the Bible as Kir Hareseth, Kir Haresh, and Kir Heres), it was the walled citadel of the Moabites. Al Karak played an important role in the Crusades. The lordship of Al Karak and Montreal was one of the chief baronies of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The brigand Reginald of Châtillon was lord of Al Karak and Montreal when, in 1187, he attacked a caravan led by Sultan Saladin and thus provoked the events leading to the fall of Jerusalem. Al Karak was taken by Saladin in 1188 after a long siege. The town was an archiepiscopal see from the early Christian era until the Christians were massacred or expelled in 1910. A 12th-century castle built by the Crusaders at Al Karak is well preserved.
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