Today we travel to Mukawir. Here atop a 700 meter hill are the ruins of a fortress overlooking the Dead Sea and surrounding terrain. It is at this strategic place that Mark 6 tells us John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded. It is also the place where Herod Antipas’ daughter, Salome, danced the dance of Seven Veils about the silver platter bearing John’s dismembered head.
One of the factiods I discovered by actually visiting Joran, is that my mental images of the imprisoned John the Baptist might be all wrong. Atop this high and easy to protect hill is where Herod Antipas built his fortress. BUT, prisoners were held in caves along the hillsides. Once we get our pictures situation squared away, you’ll be able to see what I mean. There is some debate whether or not John the Baptist was held and subsequently executed in one of these caves.
Moving along the 5,000-year-old King’s Highway south, we came to Kerak, the location of a majestic Crusaders fortress standing some 4,300ft above sea level. Built in the 12th Century, this fortress-maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways of s protected the approach to Jerusalem for fifty years until its occupants were defeated by Saladin in 1189. How anyone could take a fort this high up, with walls so thick is beyond me.
We then embarked on a 2.5 hour drive to the place that has inspired my imagination since I was told I was coming here – Petra, the rose-red sandstone city. More on that as we spend the entire day there tomorrow.
On a geek note, we’re enjoying the best bandwidth and friendliest service you can get in Petra at the Aretas Internet Cafe, located just next to the Movenpick Hotel. BTW, Hani, the proprieter standing next to chuck wants me to remind you that he also offers delicious local cuisine … and can serve you as a tour guide.by