Desert Castles


The eastern desert of Jordan is a   bleak, forbidding place, filled with basalt, sand, and sky. During Roman   times, Septimius Severus and Diocletian built a network of forts here, called   the limes arabicus, to protect the eastern border of their new province.   While many fell into disrepair, some were later restored by the Umayyads, and   added to, to create their own settlements in the desert.


Each building seems to have had its   own role, whether as a hunting lodge, caravanserai, or meeting hall, designed   to maintain ties with the local Bedouin. A Hungarian Arabist, Alois Musil,   "rediscovered" Qasayr Amra and Qasr Tuba in 1898. Although the   ruins of several are open to the public, three of them, Qasr Kharana, Qasayr   Amra, and Qasr Azraq are special, due to the restoration of the site or   because of their history.


The Ummayad Castles are a wonderful   reason to visit the eastern desert. Whether used for defense or relaxation,   they give a glimpse into a world few were privileged to see. The tall walls   of Kharana, the frescoes of Amra, and the historical associations of Azraq   make this journey rich and rewarding.