The Belvoir Fortress could be considered one of the north’s best kept secrets in Israel. Just 20 kilometers south of the Sea of Galilee sits the crusader castle that dates back to the 12th century CE. The impressive structure sits high above the Jordan Valley, a strategic location during the time of the Crusades. Designed to ward off Muslim invaders, the fortress provided strong combat positioning as well as an amazing view of the surrounding area. The structure itself consists of an outer and an inner square fortress. It is still well-preserved and visitors have the opportunity to explore the grounds while taking in a stunning view over the Jordan Valley, the Sea of Galilee and up through the Golan. It is the most complete Crusader fortress in Israel.
History of Belvoir Fortress
The original structure was much more modest and belonged to a French nobleman named Velos who lived in Tiberias. He sold it to the Order of the Hospitallers in 1168 CE who built a huge castle on the site, outfitted for battle. It was used to defend the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and proved to be a challenge for the Muslims to seize.
It withstood an attack in 1180 CE and there was a another battle fought nearby. It did eventually fall following Saladin victory over the Crusader at the Horns of Hittin. The siege on the Belvoir Fortress lasted a year and a half before the defenders surrendered in 1189 CE.
The fortress sat in ruins until excavations began in the 1960s. Archeologists found well preserved areas of the fortress under the surrounding debris. Following restoration efforts, the site was opened to visitors.
Visiting Belvoir Fortress
The fortress is located in Belvoir National Park and the best way to get there is by car. Start on Road 90 heading north from Bet Shean. About 15 kilometers north of Bet Shean, turn left onto Route 717.
April-September: 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March: 8 A.M- 4 P.M.
Last entrance one hour before closing hour
Adult: NIS 22
Child: NIS 10
Discounted rates for Israeli senior citizens, students and groups over 30 people
Belvoir Fortress is very kid-friendly. Exploring the region for a few days? Consider adding this to your itinerary after taking a tour in the north.