My mom and I are continuing our story of the three week I spent show her and my dad Israel and Jordan. Her part of the blog is from her Facebook post each day she was there.
[Mom – September 17, 2019
Today Shane, Janice and I visited 4 ruins. Bill stayed at the hotel for a day of rest. One of the interesting things on our drive was to see signs pointing to Iraq and other places I could never imagine being within driving distance of. We were 30 miles north of Saudi Arabia, 30 miles south of Syria and 100 miles west of Iraq.
The 4 sites we visited were Al-azraq, Quseir Amra, Qsar Al-Herrara and the Citadel. Each was unique and had special points of interest. My favorite thing at Al-azraq, a fort, was the stone door that could still be opened. Quseir Amra was built to be a hunting lodge and had beautiful fresco paintings. They were in the process of cleaning this and the contrast between what had been cleaned and what had not was quite remarkable. Qsar Al-Harrara was probably used as a travel lodge. All the different rooms made it easy to see why weary 6th century travelers would have appreciated having a place to bed down. The Citadel which is in Amman, the city where we have stayed the last two nights was huge and very majestic. Pictures do not do it justice and the pictures from the top of it do not show how huge this city is. We ended our day in a third story restaurant that looked out over the city and Citadel.]
East of Amman is a vast desert called, of all things, the Eastern Desert. Scattered around the Eastern Desert you can find the “5 Desert Castles” of which I have visited four of them and I was very excited to show my mom, and her friend, my three favorites (sad that my dad was not feeling up to the day trip).
Quseir Amra is my favorite of the three due to the frescoes my mother mentioned and they do look much better due to the renovation work being done. This “castle” was a hunting lodge for a prince out of Damascus. It has been suggested Quseir Amra was build in 710AD due to one of the frescoes depicting six kings around the world and one of the kings is King Roderick of Spain who had a short reign.
Al-azraq (cover photo) was built around 200AD by the Roman Empire to protect the Azraq oasis, which is the only permanent source of fresh water in 4,600 sq mi of desert. In 1237AD it underwent a major renovation. In 1917 T. E. Lawrence made the fortress his desert headquarters during the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The stone door my mom talked about was very cool since it was carved from one block of stone and had stone hinges it pivoted on. Very cool!
Qasr Al-Kharanah sits on a slight rise above the surrounding desert and is a square 115 ft on each side. Inside there are 60 rooms on two levels arranged around a central courtyard with a rainwater pool in the middle. Some people suggest it was built as early as 620AD, but most people date it around 710AD due to some graffiti found inside. No one really knows what the purpose of the building was but some have suggested it could have been a caravanserai (resting place for travelers and traders) but it lacks a water source and is not on any major trade routes. Of the three this is the one that has the most rooms to wander around in and explore.
Since we still had daylight left we visited the Citadel once we returned to Amman. This hill top site is truly fascinating because it has remains from vastly different eras starting with communal burial caves from 4000 years ago. You can also find ruins from the Ammonite era (800BC), Roman era (200AD in the form of the Temple of Hercules), a Byzantine church (6th century AD), and Umayyad Palace (starting in the early 7th century AD). The Citadel went into decline in the 13th century and basically was abandoned until 1878.