Jordan’s deserts are dotted with ancient castles, farming estates, forts, hunting lodges and caravanserai. Widely varied in function, architectural style and creative embellishment, most were the domain of Omayyad princes in the first half of the 8th Century
Of all the Ummayed castles in Jordan, Amra is the most loved. It was built as a bath house and its existence adds to the theory that these ‘Desert Castles’ were built mainly for leisure and not as forts. The auditorium chamber, used for feasting, meetings and cultural events, leads through an antechamber to the baths.
The walls of the antechamber are decorated with athletic, hunting and wildlife scenes. Qasr Amra had an elaborate bathing complex and a sophisticated heating system. The caldarium’s domed ceiling depicts the constellations of the northern hemisphere and signs of the Zodiac.
The mighty fortress at Kharana is one of Jordan’s strangest deviations – built in the form of a castle, experts maintain that it was a palace in disguise. The lavish plastering of the upper halls and rooms, the splendid vaulted ceilings and attention to decorative details raise the question that Kharana was a fort.
As Qasr Kharana does not have a substantial water source or a major route passing by, scholars suggest that it could have been an extravagant meeting place for Ummayed leaders.
asr Mushatta is extraordinary because of its grandeur and construction. It is worth visiting Mushatta at sunset as the last rays illuminate the exquisite brickwork.
Another page of Mushatta’s history was added in 1904, when the magnificent patterns were removed and presented by the Turkish Sultan to German Kaiser Wilhelm. The remains were taken to Berlin and were destroyed in World War ll.