Day 2 of our tour was extended to a full day with the addition of visits to 3 different desert castles, free of charge! We aren’t quite sure as to why but, we won’t complain.
- Qasr Amra (Amra Palace) – one of the best well known desert castles in modern day Jordan as it depicts an early example of Islamic art and architecture. Only the foundation of the castle complex remains and a small cabin which was meant for a retreat house. Amra Palace is particularly famous for its well kept frescoes (mural painting technique) all alongside the interior walls of the building. Most of the art shows hunting, biblical figures, dancing and some nudity ….which makes the building sound very questionable given it also has a large bathouse, haha.
- Qasr Al-Azraq (Azraq Castle) – known as the Blue Fortress as it used to hold a lot of water which was then transported to other cities for use. It’s strategic value was due to its location by an oasis which was the only permanent water source in the desert area. The basalt used to construct the castle reminded me of medieval European castles more than what I would have imagined in the Middle East.
- Qasr Al-Kharanah (Alharana Palace) – whether this building is really a “castle” per se or not is unclear as it does not appear to have been used for military purposes. There are no slits in the walls for arrow / boulder attacks against intruders. It’s location is also not close to any body of water to make it very useful as a resting spot for travelers. However it is remained intact extremely well and we were able to walk around and through the floors of the castle. The layout of the castle is perfectly symmetrical.