Belvoir Castle (Israel)
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Belvoir Castle (Hebrew Kokhav haYarden - the 'Star of the Jordan'; Arabic Kaukab al-Hawa - the 'Star of the Winds') is a magnificently-located Crusader castle, situated in an isolated hill top position high above the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Today, the castle is protected as an Israeli National Park and receives thousands of visitors annually.
Located on a hill of the Naphtali plateau, 20 km south of the Sea of Galilee shoreline and about 500 m above the floor of the Jordan Valley, the fortress at Belvoir was originally a part of the feudal estate of a French nobleman named Velos who lived in Tiberias. Sold it to the Order of the Hospitallers in 1168, under their ownership Belvoir was built in a virtually impregnable fortress - a castle built in concentric design and strategically located on a number of primary trade and access routes.
Belvoir served its primary purpose as an obstacle to the Muslim goal of invading the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem from the east, withsatnding the attack of Muslim forces in 1180.
Following the victory of the Muslim army under Salah al-Din (Saladin) over the Crusaders at the battle of the Horns of Hattin, Belvoir was besieged, the siege lasting 18 months, until the defenders surrendered on 5 January 1189.
Belvoir's fortification 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 them to restore the fortifications and it eventually returned to Muslim control.