Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday April 10, 11, and 12, 2019
The primary reason cruise ships come to Aqaba, Jordan is to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the wondrous Nebatean “Red Rose City” of Petra and the amazing Wadi Rum desert. We have experienced both and you can read about them by checking out “Archives” for April 2017. You will also find a gazillion photos of the Suez Canal!!!!
However, this time, we spent our first day in Aqaba touring the Shoubak Castle. The castle was built in 1115 by Baldwin I of Jerusalem during his expedition to the area. Soon after, in 1116, he captured the port of Aqaba. The castle was strategically important because it dominated the main passage from Egypt to Syria thus allowing taxation of not only traders, but also those who were on pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. It became part of the Lordship of Oultrejordain in 1142. Eventually, the greedy Raynald of Chatillon used the castle to not only attack rich caravans but to build ships and transport them overland to the Red Sea from which he planned to attack Mecca itself. Obviously, this was intolerable to the Ayyubid Sultan Saladin who preemptively invaded the Kingdom and captured the castle in 1189. The castle is currently being studied by an Italian archaeological team for the University of Florence.
On day 2, we happily shuttled into town, did a little shopping, had a pleasant lunch, and returned to the ship for an afternoon departure to the “anchorage” outside the Suez Canal where we spent the night.
Early the next morning, we led a “conga line” of ships coursing through the Suez Canal.
We are now in the Mediterranean Sea. Our next port is Naples, Italy.