Desert castles

  • Qasr Kharanah

Umayyad castles in the eastern desert


Take a ticket at the first castle: it’s valid for all of them.

I love this excursion but that’s not everyone’s case. It will take you a day. You will see 3 to 4 castles lost in the Eastern desert on the road to Saudi Arabia. The “Qasr” or castles are relatively small buildings but each one has its own soul.

The first one is Qasr Kharana and is my favorite: it takes you back to the glorious times of caravans.

The second one is Qasr Amra (8th century). From the whole complex, only a “hunting lodge” remains, mainly composed of baths. It’s remarkable for its stunning frescoes, very recently restored: they are UNESCO world heritage.

The third one is Qasr Azraq, also called the Blue Fort. Built by the Romans, this is where T.E. Lawrence based his operations in 1917-1918 during the Arab Revolt.

You can stop at the Azraq Lodge for a drink (there’s no other decent place in the neighborhood or even before Amman) or a bite. If you want to eat, you have to book the meal in advance because it seems that there is virtually no one going there! However, it’s the only place where you can eat Chechen food! There’s actually a Chechen community in Jordan comprising people who left Chechenya in the 19th century during the Causassian war.

For the curious mind, I would also recommend the stop, just to look at the place: the building is an old British hospital from the 1940’s, really well renovated. The rooms are simple, but you don’t want to stay there because there is absolutely nothing to see in the Region except for the Wetlands, that are not wet all the year round and are really small.

Then, instead of taking the same way home, you can finish off with Qasr Al Hallabat, the most recently renovated by Spanish archaeologists. Quite impressive.


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