Desert Castle

barren castle

East of Amman, the arid desert plain stretches as far as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Jordan desert castles, beautiful examples of early Islamic art and architecture, bear witness to a fascinating epoch in the country's rich history. And if I included desert castles, which ones are the ones you have to see?

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Umayyad desert fortresses, of which the desert fortresses of Jordan are an important part, are walled buildings or fortresses in the then Umayyad region of Bilad ash-Sham. The Umayyad "desert castles" are spread over the semi-arid areas of north-eastern Jordan, others in Syria, Israel and the West Bank (Palestine).

They are some of the most striking specimens of early Muslim arts and architectural works, and some are characterized by many figural frescoes and relief paintings representing humans and wildlife that are less common in later Muslim arts on such a large and open-scale scale. Much of the desert palace is exhibited in Amman Museum, the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem (decorations from Hisham's Palace) and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin (the Mshatta facade).

Sightseeing Jordan East of Amman: The Desert Castle Loop

The arid desert plains stretch eastwards of Amman as far as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Discovering Flintstone hatchets in this desert suggests that Paleolithic colonists settled in the area about half a million years ago. However, the most noteworthy remnants of man's settlement are the buildings constructed by the Umayyad Kaliphs of Damascus in the early Islamic era (7th to 8th century A.D.).

The steppes of east Jordan and main hill country are home to many historical remains, among them fortresses, fortresses, spas, bathrooms, caravan rooms and walled buildings. They were initially part of a range that stretched from northern Damascus to Khirbet al-Mafjar near Ariha (or Jericho).

While there are various theory about the use of desert buildings, the absence of defence architecture indicates that most of them were constructed as resorts. It was the early Arabian rulers' passion for the desert that prompted them to construct or take over these fortresses, which seem to be encircled by man-made oasis of fruits, veggies and game.

Others suggest that they came to the desert to prevent the epidemic that ravaged the big towns or to keep in touch with their Bedouins, the foundation of their powers. You can visit most of the desert fortresses during the course of a single afternoon in a bend from Amman via Azraq.

The Qasr al-Hallabat is about 30 kilometres eastwards of the Zarqa Desert. Formerly a fortress, it was erected during the Caracalla rule (198-217 AD) to protect itself against desert people. About two kilometres to Qasr al-Hallabat, to the west, are the remains of the Hammam al-Sarah swimming area.

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