- See also: Castles
The desert castles are a series of buildings (not all castles) built by the Umayyads in the desert, east of Amman. They provide a fascinating glimpse of how the Umayyads controlled the unforgiving desert. In Arabic, the word for "castle" is قَصْر (qaṣr, ultimately from Latin castrum), and this word features in many of the castles' names.
It is hard to see much of them by public transport.
- 1 Qasr Al-Hallabat (the first castle on a clockwise loop, east of Zarqa and just west of Hallabat). A large castle that went through multiple phases of building, showing black rock additions to the original work, plus some large mosaics.
- 2 Hammam as-Sarah (a few km east of Qasr Al-Hallabat). The baths used by the rulers of Hallabat castle, now undergoing some archaeological work. The gate will be closed but unlocked. Free.
- 3 Qasr Ussaykhim (Qasr Assekhin), head east from Azraq - there will be a signposted turnoff, but the sealed road ends 1 km before the castle. A ruined castle built from the black desert rock, a few arches standing out against the pile of rubble. This is an amazing peaceful place to look out over the rocky desert. Free.
- 4 Qasr Al-Azraq (Azraq Castle) (5 km north of the Azraq t-junction, right next to the road). A large ruined castle in the northern suburbs of Azraq. Good for exploring.
- 5 Qasr Amra (right by highway 40). Bath complex with spectacular frescos. This castle is a typical tourist attraction and includes a small museum
- 6 Qasr Kharana (right by highway 40). A large rectangular building that was likely a meeting place. It stands out against the desert and, unfortunately, the highway and power lines. The courtyard may be cool enough for a quick picnic. This is a typical tourist attraction with bathrooms available.
- 7 Qasr Mushash (Only accessible with four wheel drive. It is easiest to go off road at Lat: 31.82431 Long: 36.19882.). It is not as impressive as other desert castles, but worth visiting. At first, one might notice only small remains, but after a second look, buildings (stone walls) can be identified.
- 8 Qasr Uweinid (only accessible with a four wheel drive. It is best to go offroad at Lat: 31.78661 Long: 36.76769). This Qasr impresses the visitor with the thick walls and the amount of black stone that must have been transported to build it. Although only some walls and its shape remind us of the stone's former use, the landscape in the area around it is fascinating. There is not so much left of this Qasr, but if you are interested in history of "off the beaten path" places, this is one place to go.
- 9 Qasr Tuba (Only accessible with four wheel drive. It is easiest to go offroad at Lat: 31.29881 Long: 36.52409.). This is a rather impressive Desert Castle. It was once renovated and features several, still existing, tall rooms. It was had a formidable size, but many parts of it are now destroyed. Unfortunately, visitors have left rubbish and many of the walls that once were paintings are now decorated by graffiti.
- 10 Bayir Castle (Only accessible with four wheel drive. It is easiest to go offroad at Lat: 30.78404 Long: 36.51759.). This is a more modern castle which was probably built by a Turkish investor as a restaurant. Unlike the other desert castles it is not Umayyad and it is built very differently. Although it looks like a castle, it could also be considered a "lost place". Close by is a small, less impressive, historic building and a few metres further a small, but idyllic green valley and a water reservoir.
Eat & DrinkEdit
Larger towns like Zarqa, Hallabat and Azraq will have restaurants but you might want to take your own food and have a picnic.
Although many desert castles once served as a place to sleep in the Umayyad period, they don't have accommodation close by nowadays, unless the castle is in the city.