The "Desert Castles"
Qasr al Harraneh- Qasr Amra
The 23rd of January 2011
These so called Desert Castles were residential complexes outside the urban areas, located in the stony Eastern Desert plains, one of the harshest and least populated part of Jordan, meant to be used by the Caliph and his entourage and an accessable place to meet with th bedouins.
We first headed towards Qasr al Harraneh, whose name is said to derive from the stony harra desert, in which it sits. Its rooms round the courtyard are divided into bayts (self contained units), each comprising a large central room, with smaller rooms opening off it (typically Umayyad). At the top of the stairs, there is a room lined with stone rosettes (to be seen in one of the photos below) and one next door holding a few lines in painted Kufic script.
Different views of the Qasr Harraneh
I would lie if I were to say I was not impressed by it (though I had initally expected it to be somewhat different) ... its shape, its state of preservation, some of the details and the surrounding atmosphere of almost "emptiness" were among some of the aspects that impressed me the most.
We then visited the 707-715 AD Qasr Amra, presumably built as a place where the Umayyad Caliph al-Walid I used to find restoration and amusement. Its small looking size was clearly compensated by the profuse decoration of its walls and ceilings covered with frescoes (probably done by Syrian and Arabian artists), some of which are in a fairly bad state of preservation, (which is a pity really, as they carry a profound symbolism).