The Eastern Desert Castles, Jordan

Qusayr Amra

"Castle" is really a misnomer for these building built by the Umayyad caliphs. They were more like estates or a villa in the Roman tradition, a retreat for the caliphs where they would also meet the local bedouins

Front view

The Umayyad caliphs were colorful people not particularly bothered about perpetuating or following the values of Islam and more concerned with empire building. Even today they are regarded as usurpers by the orthodox Sunni doctors

Frescoes of

Inside the castle are frescoes of dancing girls, lute players, other monarchs and miscellaneous figures, something explicitly forbidden in Islam

... dancing girls

These are original frescoes from around 1300 years ago.

Qusayr Kharana

These once had large settlements around them when there was even plentiful water around as evidenced by the irrigation tracks found by archeologists


The castle has many rooms used to house the caliphs entourage


Few people visit this castle these days as it is not reacheable by public transportation and lies in the middle of the eastern desert.

Side view

The castle in late afternoon


Inside one of the rooms in the upper floor


The slots visible served as windows

Lots of rooms

View from above

Looking across

View from inside the room

Qusayr Azraq

Another ancient castle now famous for serving as a base for TE Lawrence as he led the Arabs to victory against the Turks in WWI

Wider view

A view of the courtyard. On the right is a little mosque.


One of the structures inside, the place is mostly in bad shape

Waiting for a minibus

Waiting for a minibus


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