Enceinte de Kerak




Localisation : enceinte entourant la ville.



Réf :

Brown (1989), p.287-304

Meinecke (1992), 4/42


Luynes (1874), n°17, 21

RCEA 4733






L’enceinte existait déjà sous les Francs, elle est probablement construite à partir de 1142 en même temps que la forteresse.

Une inscription sur un souterrain au nord-ouest de la ville[1] mentionne les travaux du sultan Ayyûbide al-Mu’azzam Isa en 624/1227[2]. Ce souterrain (E2 sur le plan, ill.27) et celui sur le front est (E1, ill.15) étaient les deux seuls moyens d’accéder à la ville.

Après la prise de la ville en 661/1263, le sultan Baybars fait renforcer le mur d’enceinte de la ville et fait construire les tours d’al-Badawî et d’al-Sa’ûb. A l’angle nord-ouest de la ville il fait ériger un mur bouclier. L’enceinte connaîtra par la suite d’autres réparations après les séismes de 692/1293, 702/1302 et 862/1458.

Aujourd’hui la ville conserve d’importantes portions de son enceinte notamment à l’est (ill.10-14), à l’ouest (ill.28) et 4 tours : burj al-Badawî (ill.1-5), burj al-Sa’ûb (ill.6-9), burj al-Nasara (ill.16-19) et burj al-Tanas (ill.31-37) ainsi que le mur bouclier, dit burj Baybars (ill.20-25).






n.d. Tour al-Zâhir Baybars, 1 ligne + 2 lions (ill.26)[3].

 « Au nom de Dieu clément, miséricordieux. […..] le sultan el-Malek ed-Dhaher, le grand et illustre Seigneur, savant, juste, champion de la foi, guerrier, assisté de Dieu, victorieux, secouru de Dieu, Rukn eddounia wa Eddîn (le pilier du monde et de la religion), le Sultan de l’Islamisme et des Musulmans, le Seigneur des rois et des Sultans, le destructeur des infidèles et des polythéistes, qui protège la justice, et vient au secours des créatures, le roi des 2 mers, le maître de la Qibla, le serviteur des 2 nobles harams (de la Mekke et de Médine), le vivificateur de Khalifat auguste, l’ombre de Dieu sur la terre, l’associé du prince des Croyants, Baibars, fils d’Abd Allâh, le Sâlehi, que Dieu exalte son empire ! ».



n.d. Burj al-Badawî, 1 ligne (ill.5)[4].

 « Au nom de Dieu clément, miséricordieux. […..] le sultan el-Malek ed-Dhaher, le grand et illustre Seigneur, savant, juste, champion de la foi, guerrier, victorieux, el-Mansûr (secouru de Dieu), Rukn eddounia wa Eddîn, Sultan de l’Islamisme et des Musulmans, Seigneur des rois et des Sultans, défenseur de la justice, refuge des créatures, roi des 2 mers, maître de la Qibla, serviteur des 2 nobles harams, vivificateur du Khalifat très vénéré, ombre de Dieu sur la terre, associé du prince des croyants, Baibars fils d’Abd Allâh, le Sâlehî, que Dieu exalte (son empire…. ».




Biblio complémentaire

Aigle (2003), p.57-85

Milwright (2008)














1/ tracé de l’enceinte et localisation des tours


2/ burj al-Badawî, vue sud

3/ burj al-Badawî, vue nord

4/ burj al-Badawî, partie haute

5/ burj al-Badawî, inscription de Baybars












6/ burj al-Sa’ûb, vue ouest

7/ burj al-Sa’ûb, la plateforme

8/ burj al-Sa’ûb depuis la route en contrebas


9/ burj al-Sa’ûb façade est

10/ burj al-Sa’ûb et une portion du front est
















11/ le front est entre burj al-Sa’ûb et l’entrée E2

12/ un saillant au nord de burj al-Sa’ûb


13/ vue de l’intérieur du saillant

14/ le front est avec l’accès E1

15/ l’accès E1











16/ burj al-Nasara, vue sud

17/ burj al-Nasara, façade est

18/ burj al-Nasara, façade nord

19/ burj al-Nasara et une portion du front nord

20/ une portion du front nord-ouest avec burj Baybars












21/ burj Baybars depuis le cimetière à l’ouest


22/ burj Baybars, vue sud-ouest

23/ burj Baybars, vue intérieure

24/ burj Baybars, vue intérieure gauche

25/ burj Baybars, vue intérieure droite
















26/ burj Baybars, l’inscription de Baybars sur le mur intérieur


27/ l’accès E2 au sud de burj Baybars

28/ vue du front ouest depuis la citadelle avec burj al-Tanas et burj Baybars

29/ une portion du front ouest entre burj Baybars et burj al-Tanas


30/ détail d’une portion du front ouest
















31/ burj al-Tanas, vue nord

32/ burj al-Tanas, façade latérale

33/ burj al-Tanas, façade ouest

34/ burj al-Tanas, vue sud-ouest


35/ burj al-Tanas, vue intérieure








36/ burj al-Tanas, vue intérieure droite

37/ burj al-Tanas, vue intérieure gauche





Documents anciens, récits


Tristram (1874), p.86-90.

« The whole place has formerly been surrounded by a strong wall, of which a considerable portion remains everywhere. In no place did I observe it to be entirely demolished, while in some parts it is still perfect. The wall, with its smoothly-sloped facing, fills up any irregularities in the native rock, which is scarped a considerable way down, especially at the angles, with a very well-executed revetment, wherever requisite. This lower portion of the work appears to be older than the Crusading or Saracenic times; and the wide shallow bevel suggests the Herodian, or a yet earlier epoch. The upper part of the fortress is claimed by the Mohammedans in several inscriptions, which are palpably of later date than the structures themselves. There have been originally only two entrances to Kerak—one to the north-west, the other on the farther side, and both through tunnels in the side of the cliff, emerging on the platform of the town. Of late years paths have been made over the ruinous walls in two places ; but these can only be scrambled over by foot passengers. They are both on the north-east face. To an enemy Kerak is utterly inaccessible, except by the winding paths at the western and northeast sides. The road from the east, by which we traveled, suddenly turns as we are under the northwest castle, and is cut to a great depth immediately under the angle, while the great castle wall, with loopholes and parapets, towers straight up its whole width, leaving any one approaching by this great rock-hewn ditch at the mercy of the garrison. Having passed through this cutting, we turn sharply to the left, and creep along the rugged path, completely exposed to those above, and where horsemen or footmen can only mount slowly in single file, till we enter a tunnel, the gate-way of Kerak, apparently partly natural, but with a well-built pointed arch over its entrance, above which a stone, manifestly of a later date, with an Arabic inscription, has been let into the face of the rock. The inscription is only partially defaced, but has not, I believe, been yet translated. Mr. Buxton obtained an admirable photograph of this tunnel entrance. The arch is certainly older than the Saracenic occupation, and Mr. Fergusson has expressed his decided opinion that, though slightly pointed, it is yet Eoman. The tunnel continues winding, and steeply ascending, for eighty paces, when we suddenly emerge, and find ourselves on the open platform of the town, very near the north-west castle. This tower, which is called the Castle of Bybars, or of " El Melek," from an Arabic inscription of great size let into its wall, ascribing the erection to " El Melek " (the king) Bybars, is a massive wall forming three sides of a trapezium, the long wall stretching ninety yards, and each of the flanking or re-entering walls extending in an obtuse angle from it for fifteen yards. At the inner extremity of these walls are still more lofty towers, in which are staircases. The wall is twenty-seven feet thick in its lower stories. The upper stories are studded with long loop-holes, and an open ledge for the defenders to communicate along the whole. The arched loopholes and chambers are now, for the most part, converted into rude store-houses, built up with rough masonry ; and the ledges, some 100 feet high, are the favorite lounge of the boys and men of Kerak. Above this the wall contracts; there are loop-holes again; and a platform outside, without battlements, runs along near the top, about seven feet wide. The stones for this enormous construction have evidently been obtained from the great rock - hewn fosse below, up which we rode, and which has been a most convenient and inexhaustible quarry, thus doubly increasing the strength of the place. The inscription running along the inner face, attributing the building to Bybars, is flanked on either side by two lions rampant, which seem part of the original structure, which the inscription is not (for the stones do not fit well, and one has been inserted by the ignorant workmen upside down). These lions, apparently older than the Arabic letters, suggested to us the idea that they are possibly part of the Crusaders' work, not removed by Saladin or Bybars. The fort at the north-east is comparatively insignificant, as the natural fortress was there inaccessible. »





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[1] Voir la gravure de Tristram lors de son séjour en 873, in Tristram (1874), p.83.

[2] Texte de l’inscription in RCEA 39654 et Luynes (1874), n°20.

[3] Texte d’après Luynes (1874), n°17.

[4] Texte d’après Luynes (1874), n°21.