Mukawir Castle

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The ground of the lower slopes of the Rift Valley as it nears the Dead Sea is fissured, broken and hilly; atop one of these knolls in a seemingly impregnable position is Mukawir. It was originally a hilltop fort of the Jewish Maccabean revolutionaries fighting the Seleucid Empire, and latterly was also used by the Jews in their First Revolt against Roman rule; the ramp built stone by stone, under fire from the fort walls, by Roman soldiers that allowed them to capture the fort can still be seen today. But Mukawir’s most infamous moment came when it was a pleasure palace for Herod Antipas: he imprisoned John the Baptist and beheaded him here at Mukawir, at the behest of Salome. Today it is an energetic climb to the summit, which affords dramatic views over the surrounding countryside, and some interesting ruins to potter around.

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