Jordan’s Enigmatic Desert Castles
Nestled between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Israel lies the tranquil country of Jordan. Despite it's precarious geographic location, Jordan is an inviting country filled with remarkably generous people. It may be the best place on earth to immerse yourself in the Muslim culture to appreciate all of it's possible virtues.
Traveling west from the capital, Amman, you quickly enter the Arabian Desert. It is flat, featureless and hot which makes the castles that dot that landscape even more remarkable.
Our first stop was the Qsar Azarq. It is located near a rare feature, an ancient, permanent oasis. It is interesting that much of the fort was constructed by stacking dry stone (i.e. no mortar). Though also the site of an ancient mosque, the fort is most noted for basing The: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ during the Arab Revolt in 1917/18. Unlike the old Hollywood films, there isn't a sand dune in sight.
The second castle we visited was the Qsar Al-Kharanah. In stark contrast to the black rock basalt of the Qsar Azarq, this castle was much larger, multi-storied and constructed of sandstone. The purpose of this structure continues to be somewhat of a mystery due to its geographic location and constructed layout.
Our last stop was the Qasr Amra. This building is only a remnant of its former grandeur, however, it contains unique frescoes which earn it an UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Almost every square inch of the building’s interior is covered with these unique and beautiful frescoes.