QASR AL-AZRAQ (Arabic : قصر الأزرق, "Blue Fortress")
is a large fortress located in present-day eastern
Its strategic value came from the nearby oasis, the only water source
in a vast desert region. The name of the fortress and associated town
came from these. The settlement was known in antiquity as Basie and
the Romans were the first to make military use of the site, and later
an early mosque was built in the middle. It did not assume its present
form until an extensive renovation and expansion by the
Later, it would be used by the Ottoman armies during that empire's
hegemony over the region. During the
* 1 Architecture * 2 History * 3 Today * 4 See also * 5 References
The stone door
The castle is constructed of the local black basalt and is a square
structure with 80 metre long walls encircling a large central
courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard is a small mosque that may
Although very heavy — 1 ton for each of the leaves of the main gate, 3 tons for single the other — these stone doors can quite easily be moved, thanks to palm tree oil. The unusual choice of stone can be explained by the fact that there is no close source of wood, apart from palm tree wood, which is very soft and unsuitable for building.
The strategic significance of the castle is that it lies in the middle of the Azraq oasis, the only permanent source of fresh water in approximately 12,000 square kilometres (4,600 sq mi) of desert. Several civilizations are known to have occupied the site for its strategic value in this remote and arid desert area.
The area was inhabited by the
Qasr al-Azraq underwent its final major stage of building in 1237 CE,
when 'Izz ad-Din Aybak, an emir of the
In the 16th century the Ottoman Turks stationed a garrison there, and
T. E. Lawrence
Qasr al-Azraq is often included on day trips from
* ^ A B C "Qasr Azraq".
Rough Guides . Retrieved June 12, 2009.
* ^ Falls, Cyril (1964). Armageddon: 1918.
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ISRAEL AND PALESTINE