Desert Castles

Sunday, 20 November 2011 11:01 administrator

Desert Castles:

The castles were built between the 7th century and 8th century, roughly between 660 and 750, under the caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty who had made Damascus their new capital (in 661). The majority of the castles lie on the ancient trade routes towards Medina and Kufa. The castles are partly rebuilt from earlier remains and partly new constructions. The function and use of the buildings are yet today not quite determined, scholarship has suggested that they might have served a variety of defensive, agricultural and/or commercial agendas. There are different theories concerning the use of the buildings, they may have been a fortress, a meeting place for Bedouins (between themselves or with the Ummayyad governor), badiyas (retreats for the nobles) or used as a caravanserai. The castles represent some of the most impressive examples of early Islamic art and Islamic architecture.


Allure Tours selection:

Qasr Amra: It is the best-known of the desert castles located in present-day eastern Jordan. The building is actually the remnant of a larger complex that included an actual castle, of which only the foundation remains. What stands today is a small country cabin, meant as a royal retreat, without any military function. It is most notable for the frescoes that remain on the ceilings inside, which depict hunting, naked women and, above one bath chamber, an accurate representation of the zodiac.

Qasr Mushatta: It is the ruin of an Umayyad winter palace probably commissioned by caliph Al-Walid II (743-744). The ruins of Qasr Mushatta consist of an outer wall made up of 25 towers as well as a small central tract of rooms. These rooms included a throne room, courtyard and mosque.[1] The rooms occupy a central tract within the walls. The southern side contains the entry hall and mosque which was situated to face Mecca. The southern side contains another small gate that leads to the courtyard. The north side of the central tract contains the residential section of the palace. The residential building was a three-bay hall which led to the domed throne room. Surrounding the throne room are a group of apartments covered by wagon vaults and ventilated with concealed air ducts. The main gate of the palace faced south and had a carved stone facade now known as the Mshatta Facade. While the facade has now been removed rest of site can still be visited in Jordan.

Qasr Kharanah: It is believed to have been built sometime before the early 8th century, based on a graffito in one of its upper rooms, despite visible Sassanid influences. A Greek or Byzantine house may have existed on the site. Its purpose remains unclear today. "Castle" is a misnomer as the building's internal arrangement does not suggest a military use, and slits in its wall could not have been designed as balistraria, or arrow slits. It could have been a caravanserai, or resting place for traders, but lacks the water source such buildings usually had close by and is not on any major trade routes. It remains very well-preserved, whatever its original use.