02.07.2024
2 min.

Jordan’s desert castles, scattered across the eastern desert, stand as remarkable testaments to the region’s rich historical mosaic. These enigmatic structures, dating back to the early Islamic period, offer a fascinating glimpse into the architectural and cultural innovations of their time. From the intricate frescoes of Qasr Amra to the imposing walls of Qasr Kharranah, each castle tells a unique story of power, artistry, and adaptation to the harsh desert environment. We explore the historical significance of these desert castles, uncovering the layers of history that have shaped Jordan’s heritage and contributed to our understanding of early Islamic civilization. 

Umayyad Dynasty: A Golden Age of Construction 

The majority of Jordan’s Desert Castles were constructed during the reign of the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 AD). This period marked a golden age of Islamic art and architecture. The Umayyads, with their base in Damascus, sought to consolidate their power and establish trade routes across their vast empire. These castles served various purposes, functioning as: 

  • Caravan Stations: Offering rest and provisions for travelers from the desert trade routes. 
  • Administrative Centers: Housing officials who oversaw the region and collected taxes. 
  • Military Outposts: Providing security and control over strategic locations. 
  • Royal Retreats: Serving as luxurious hunting lodges and entertainment complexes for the Umayyad caliphs. 

Architectural Gems: A Blend of Styles 

Each castle has unique architectural features, reflecting the Umayyads’ appreciation for diverse influences. From Roman engineering techniques to Byzantine mosaics and Sasanian decorative elements, a fascinating blend of styles unfolds. 

Beyond their imposing facades, the Desert Castles offer a look into the lives of those who inhabited them. Unearthed pottery shards and cookware tell tales of daily meals prepared within these walls. The presence of bathhouses speaks to the importance placed on hygiene and leisure. Imagine bustling marketplaces within the castle walls, or the quiet contemplation of scholars in the lavishly decorated chambers. 

Qasr Amra: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Qasr Amra is renowned for its intricate geometric patterns and captivating frescoes adorning its walls. These frescoes show a variety of scenes, including hunting parties, courtly gatherings, and even a depiction of the zodiac. The castle’s bathhouse, with its elaborate heating system and mosaics, offers a glimpse into the luxurious bathing practices of the Umayyad elite. 

Qasr Kharranah: This imposing castle, situated amidst a rugged desert landscape, showcases the Umayyads’ mastery of engineering. Its vaulted ceilings, rainwater harvesting systems, and sturdy fortifications speak to their architectural expertise. The castle’s layout, with its central courtyard surrounded by chambers, reflects the harmonious blend of functionality and aesthetics. 

Qasr Azraq: Also known as “The Blue Castle,” Qasr Azraq derives its name from the black basalt stones used in its construction, which give it a distinctive bluish color under certain lighting conditions. The castle’s history is rich and varied, having served as a Roman fort, an Umayyad palace, and a base for T.E. Lawrence during the Arab Revolt. Its well-preserved chambers and courtyards offer a fascinating glimpse into different eras of Middle Eastern history. 

Planning Your Historical Exploration 

Several Desert Castles are easily accessible from Amman, Jordan’s capital. Qasr Amra, Qasr Kharranah, and Qasr Azraq are located within a relatively close proximity to each other, making them ideal destinations for a day trip or a weekend excursion. Ensure you wear comfortable shoes suitable for exploring uneven terrain and bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the sun can be unforgiving. 

Silvia P
Silvia P
2023-09-10
Fantastic tour with an Italian speaking guide We received an excellent service and support from zamantours. Our Italian-speaking guide, Abdullah, was outstanding: he gave us precise and comprehensive information about places and culture, he was highly flexible in the program and tireless in his work. He has been a reference for us throughout our trip. Also Yusef, the driver, was kind and flexible. All the personnel were always punctual and professional.
Paula S
Paula S
2023-07-27
Amazing experience It was a wonderful experience. Petra is an awesome place, breathless sunset at the Wadi Run desert, there are many archeological sites and significant religious places of the Bible.Floating on the Dead Sea was just incredible. Thanks to Ahmed, our tour guide, he's really professional and kind, with a great sense of humor and Samir, excelent and safety driver, both of them are the best advicers in Jordan.
Alberto D
Alberto D
2023-07-01
Best experience in Jordan We enjoyed one week touring Amman, Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. The sites were extraordinary, the guide Fadl very competent and the driver Samir very kind. Hotels were first class, people always very friendly. Food very appreciated.
Maclain N
Maclain N
2023-06-13
Skip the Petra by Night experience. Don’t be tricked into doing Petra by night. We saw it last night on 6/12/23 The production value is horrible and the show is really short. Basically by the time you hike down the show is over within 30 min and it is not lit well. The city of Petra is amazing by day and the donkey ride to the monastery was the an incredible experience but I would NOT recommend the night experience.
Deepan P
Deepan P
2023-06-04
1-week trip to Jordan Excellent organization, accomodation, and meals. Our driver Hisham is very knowledgeable, great communication and attitude that made our trip memorable. Hisham is a very safe driver, took us often on interesting side routes, and made extra effort to show as much of Jordan as he could in the time we had. He is punctual, and checked on our accomodations and visits. Hisham cares deeply about Jordan and his guests
John Moorcraft
John Moorcraft
2023-04-18
Family Holiday with 5yr old expertly delivered. We booked our holiday for our five year old through Zaman and couldn’t have been happier. Everything around booking was painless and easy. All airport procedures were a breeze and they fast track you through immigration. We were out of the airport with all luggage within 15mins of landing! Our driver, Sayall, was outstanding with my daughter and ensured she was the focal point of the whole trip. First class. I would strongly recommend the Hilton in the Dead Sea if you have young children. Very friendly and great swimming pool. The Labdmark Hotel in Amman also good for kids and 100pct do the children’s museum. Our kid loved camel riding in Wadi Rum and found Petra fascinating (she climbed up to the high place of sacrifice). She enjoyed snorkelling as well. I’d caution against the Intercontinental in Aqaba. The policies there on swimming pool access work against 5-10yr olds. I’d look elsewhere there given the pricing structure. Overall, if you want to go to Jordan (and you should) and you want to travel with young children then Zaman will have you sorted. Top agency and it really worked for us.
fabrizio g
fabrizio g
2023-04-06
Grazie Sam! Grazie Mohammad Saleem ci hai guidato attraverso la Giordania con professionalità competenza simpatia sempre molto attento alle nostre esigenze. Lo abbiamo molto apprezzato
Cheri R
Cheri R
2023-03-05
Terrific value, tremendous fun Samanta of ZamanTours, whom we accessed through KimKim, was honestly fantastic. She planned our itinerary around our dates and requests, got us luxury hotels and meals, and best of all--arranged for driver/guide Hamdi Das. We were able to contact her anytime and she was immediately responsive (we made an error and she was able to help us rectify it--cheerfully!). All communications were clear and easy--fantastic Hamdi accompanied us to every entrance (even hotels) and made sure there was never a problem. We had 6 terrific days in Jordan, and are so completely happy. On our flight home, we talked with others who had used a luxury tour group and our experiences were hugely better --at half their price! We highly recommend Samanta at Zaman Tours and Hamdi, guide/driver-extraodinaire.
Carmelo L
Carmelo L
2023-03-05
Amazing tour of Jordan Dear Zamantours, We would thank you for the quality of the service provided us during our travel in Jordan. We were very happy for the assistance we got at the Airport and especially for the professional driver Mr. J. Al Z. who has safely and kindly driven us for the entire week across Jordan A special thanks for our tourist guide Mr.M. Al-S. that made an excellent job explaining us a lot of things about Jordan History and beeing available for each of our need. Thank a lot for your great work Kind regards Carmelo & Fiorella
Peter Tass
Peter Tass
2023-02-23
Petra once in a lifetime tour Zayed was extremely helpful. Beautiful waiter. He attended to us all the time. And the cocktails were very well priced.