Belvoir National Park (Kohav HaYarden in Hebrew) national park is the best-preserved Crusader fortress in Israel, located in northern Israel, south of the Sea of Galilee.
The Knights Hospitaller purchased the site from Velos, a French nobleman, in 1168. Standing 500 metres (1,600 ft) above the Jordan River Valley, the plateau commanded the route from Gilead into the Kingdom of Jerusalem and a nearby river crossing, to the north is the Sea of Galilee and west are the lower galilee hills.
As soon as the Knights Hospitaller purchased the land they began construction of Belvoir Castle. While Gilbert of Assailly was Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller the order gained around thirteen new castles, among which Belvoir was the most important. The fortress of Belvoir served as a major obstacle to the Muslim goal of invading the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem from the east. It withstood an attack by Muslim forces in 1180. During the campaign of 1182, the Battle of Belvoir Castle was fought nearby between King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Saladin.
Following Saladin’s victory over the Crusaders at the battle of the Horns of Hittin, Belvoir was besieged. The siege lasted a year and a half, until the defenders surrendered on 5 January 1189. The fortifications of Belvoir were dismantled in 1217–18 by the Muslim rulers who feared the reconquest of the fortress by the Crusaders. In 1240 Belvoir was ceded to the Crusaders by agreement. However, lack of funds did not permit restoration of the fortifications and the fortress returned to Muslim control.
The Hebrew name, Kohav Hayarden, meaning Star of the Jordan, preserves the name of Kohav – a Jewish village which existed nearby during the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Belvoir is an early example of the concentric castle plan, which was widely used in later crusader castles. The castle was highly symmetric, with a rectangular outer wall, reinforced with square towers at the corners and on each side, surrounding a square inner enclosure with four corner towers and one on the west wall.
Belvoir National Park visitor guide
Opening Hours: April-September: 08:00 – 17:00 October – March: 08:00 – 16:00 on Friday: 08:00 – 15:00.