Previous slide
Next slide
Desert Castles
Location of the Desert Castle:

The Desert Castles of Jordan are a collection of historical sites scattered throughout the eastern desert region of the country. These castles, palaces, and caravanserais were built during the Umayyad period (7th-8th centuries) and served various purposes, including as hunting lodges, agricultural complexes, and caravan stations along important trade routes.

The Desert Castles are located within a radius of about 100 kilometers east of the capital city, Amman. Their strategic placement allowed them to control and protect trade routes, as well as serve as retreats for the ruling Umayyad dynasty.

Overview of the Desert Castles:

Desert Castles of Jordan are remarkable testaments to the early Islamic era, showcasing the captivating art and architecture of the time and offering a glimpse into a significant period in the country’s history. These grand complexes, characterized by their impressive scale and intricate designs, feature exquisite mosaics, frescoes, stone and stucco carvings, and illustrations inspired by Persian and Graeco-Roman traditions. Through their artistic depictions, Desert Castles of Jordan vividly portray the daily life and culture of the 8th century.

These desert castles served various purposes, functioning as caravan stations, agricultural and trade centres, resort pavilions, and outposts that facilitated connections between distant rulers and local Bedouin communities. Despite the passage of time, several of these Desert Castles have been remarkably preserved, allowing visitors to appreciate their historical and architectural significance.

Among the most well-preserved monuments is Quseir Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in the early 8th century, this desert castle served as both a fortress with a garrison and a residence for the Umayyad caliphs. Notably, its reception hall and hammam (bathhouse) feature elaborate figurative murals that exemplify the secular artistry of the era. Quseir Amra stands as a testament to the Umayyad dynasty’s architectural prowess and artistic achievements.

Another notable Umayyad desert castle is Al-Mshatta Palace, also known as the “Winter Palace.” Situated approximately 32 kilometers southeast of Amman, it was built by Umayyad Caliph al-Walid bin Yazid in 744 AD. Encircled by a square wall with 25 circular towers, the palace showcases the architectural ingenuity of the Umayyads and their ability to create structures of grandeur.

Qasr Al-Harrana, also known as Al-Kharanah Castle, is a square fortress that was rebuilt during the reign of Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik. Positioned in the Al-Harrana Valley, this castle has undergone multiple restorations due to invading empires. Visitors can explore its medieval interior, gaining insights into the past within the fortress walls.

Qasr Burqu, originally built by the Romans to control a freshwater source, showcases steam irrigation channels that reach every room and facility. This desert castle, located in the governorate of Mafraq, awaits discovery by those who appreciate ancient engineering marvels.

Qasr Al-Hallabat, initially a small Roman fortress, was occupied in 106 AD and became part of Limas Arabicus in the Arabian Peninsula. It was later expanded and fortified with four towers, possibly during the reign of Diocletian. This castle, situated along the Nova Trajana route, provides a glimpse into the strategic importance of fortifications during that period.

Qasr Hammam Al-Sarah, also known as the Eastern Hallabat Palace, is an Umayyad bathhouse located in the city of Zarqa, north of the capital Amman. Constructed by Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in the early 8th century AD, this castle offers insights into the architectural achievements of the Umayyad dynasty.

Qasr Tuba, an Umayyad palace, has remarkably preserved a significant portion of its structure despite erosion and destruction. Positioned along a trade route linking Balqa to the Arabian Peninsula, this castle’s origins can be traced back to the reign of Walid ibn Yazid.

For those captivated by the legends and lore of the Crusaders, another group of castles awaits exploration along the picturesque Kings’ Highway. Remnants of Crusader forts and outposts dot the landscape, with Karak and Showbak among the most noteworthy. These castles provide captivating glimpses into the architectural and military traditions of the Crusader era. Their galleries, towers, chapels, and ramparts still reverberate with the spirit of the Crusaders who constructed them nearly a millennium ago.

Visiting these desert castles and Crusader forts provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Jordan’s rich historical tapestry, appreciating the architectural and artistic marvels of bygone eras. It is a journey that transports visitors back in time, allowing them to witness the grandeur and cultural heritage of the Islamic and Crusader periods, and to gain a deeper understanding of Jordan’s vibrant history.

You can learn more about:
Scroll to Top