QASR KHARANA (قصر الحرانة)

A terribly damaged road brought us to the thick-walled structure in the middle of a vast, treeless plain. Although its function and purpose are controversial, this important Umayyad structure remains an exciting sight of the main Azraq–Amman road.

Although it isn’t a castle, Kharana was a vital building for the Umayyads, as evidenced by its dramatic size and shape. Even though it appears like a khan (caravanserai), Kharana wasn’t located on any major trade route, and there seems to be a total absence of structures for water storage. That leaves the supposition that the building served as a meeting space for the Damascus elite and local Bedouins.

Very little is known about the origins of Qasr Kharana, although a painted inscription above one of the doors on the upper floor mentions the date AD 710, making it one of the earliest forts of the Islamic era. The presence of stones with Greek inscriptions in the main entrance also suggests it was built on a Roman or Byzantine building site, possibly as a private residence.

Parking location: 31.726666N 36.463465E (🚻)