The Belvoir ("Great View" in French) Fortress, which is also called, in Hebrew, "Kochav Hayarden" ("Jordan' Star") is often nicknamed "one of the best-kept secrets in Israel." Sitting at the top of the steep hill, hidden from the view, this huge crusader castle dates back to the 12th century AD.

Designed to control the strategic path along the Jordan Valley, the fortress provided strong combat positioning and relative easiness to defend. And it also permitted a breathtaking view of the whole area (remember the name – Belvoir?).

Jordan Valley view from the fortress

The structure itself consists of two (outer and an inner) fortresses. In spite of the deliberate destruction and 800 years' age, It is still well-preserved, and visitors have a great opportunity to explore the grounds while taking in a stunning view over the Jordan Valley, the Sea of Galilee and up through the Golan Heights. It is the most complete Crusader fortress in Israel.

The first very modest fortress was built in the 11th century on the top of the hill, 500 m above the Jordan Valley. The Order of the Hospitallers purchased it in 1168 from the French Crusader's owner. The Hospitallers clearly realized the top strategic importance of the site and erected a huge fortress with impenetrable defenses.

From Belvoir, the garrison could closely watch the nearby bridge over the Jordan River, which served as the entryway from Transjordan into the Crusades Jerusalem Kingdom and watch the main road leading along the Jordan River, from Syria to Egypt.

Belvoir in the 12th century

Belvoir today