Qasr Al Mushatta

Just south of Amman, Qasr al-Mushatta offers an excellent example of characteristic Umayyad architecture. The castle is an incomplete square palace with elaborate decoration and vaulted ceilings. The immense brick walls of the complex stretch 144 meters in each direction, and at least 23 round towers were nestled along these walls. The palace mosque is sited in the traditional position, inside and to the right of the main entrance. Throughout, there is a powerful symmetry and axiality in the planning, with a tendency for compartmentalization, often into three sections. The vaulting systems are considered essentially Iraqi, but the stonemasonry and carved decoration is Hellenistic. Both influences are modified by their interaction, and this palace presents the most complete fusion of the two traditions in Umayyad architecture.

Historians believe that Qasr al-Mushatta, the largest and most lavish of all the Umayyad castles, was begun by the Caliph Walid II—who was assassinated by forced laborers angry over the lack of water in the area. The palace was constructed between 743-744 CE, but was never fully completed.

Qasr al-Mushatta is not on the Desert Castle Loop. To get there, take the Desert Highway south of Amman to Queen Alia International Airport. The castle is situated right at the end of the north runway. You must drive around the perimeter of the airport to get there. Turn right at the Alia Gateway Hotel as you approach the airport and the road will take you past two checkpoints and on to the castle.


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