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Home Africa & Middle East Jordan Desert castles Qasr Hallabat 360° virtual tour

Qasr Hallabat 360° virtual tour

Not frequently visited by tourists, Qasr al Hallabat belongs to one of the so called desert castles in Jordan. It gets its significance from being a mixture of Roman forts and Umayyad pleasure palaces.

1. What to see

Originally a Roman fort established during the rule of Emperor Caracalla (198–217 AD), it served as an outpost of the Roman Empire to protect it against raiding desert tribes. There is however evidence of earlier Nabatean presence at the site. In the 6th century it became a Byzantine monastery that was soon abandoned because of a Sassanian invasion from Persia in the early 7th century.  Finally, the 8th century brought a rebirth of the building when Umayyad caliphs decided to demolish some the Roman structures and convert it into a pleasure palace. Walls consisted of black basalt and white limestone and Roman basalt stone blocks with Greek inscriptions were reused, sometimes even upside down. The Umayyad palace featured a mosque, baths and a fine decoration with mosaics and frescoes, unusually depicting animals and human faces.

Some of the mosaics got fenced off during the past years, but there are still a lot of them visible at the site. Fragments of the frescoes were transferred to Amman, to both the Archaeological Museum within Amman Citadel and the Islamic Museum within King Abdullah Mosque. Decline of the Umayyads brought the abandoning of the palace that gradually disintegrated into a jumble of fallen stone blocks. Year by year, another section of the palace and the mosque gets rebuilt, so don't be surprised to discover the newly added porch of the mosque that simply did not exist in 2009. However, the giant crane dominating the entire site hasn't changed much during the recent years.

2. When to see

There are no specific opening times for this monument. It has a ticket office and a caretaker who can unlock it if visitors arrive. It was our first stop on a half-day trip from Amman to discover the desert castles and thus, we have no information if it could be open late in the afternoon.

3. Location

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