Qasr al-Azraq (Arabic: قصر الأزرق, "Blue Fortress") is a
large fortress located in present-day eastern Jordan. It is one of the
desert castles, located on the outskirts of present-day Azraq, roughly
100 km (62 mi) east of Amman.
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
the 13th century, using locally quarried basalt which makes the castle
darker than most other buildings in the area.
Later, it would be used by the Ottoman armies during that empire's
hegemony over the region. During the Arab Revolt,
T.E. Lawrence based
his operations here in 1917–18, an experience he wrote about in his
book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The connection to "Lawrence of Arabia"
has been one of the castle's major draws for tourists.
4 See also
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
Umayyad times. At each corner of the outer wall, there is an
oblong tower. The main entrance is composed of a single massive hinged
slab of granite, which leads to a vestibule where one can see carved
into the pavement the remains of a Roman board game.
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
Nabataean people and around 200 CE fell
under the control of the Romans. The Romans built a stone structure
using the local basalt stone that formed a basis for later
constructions on the site, a structure that was equally used by the
Qasr al-Azraq underwent its final major stage of building in 1237 CE,
when 'Izz ad-Din Aybak, an emir of the Ayyubids, redesigned and
fortified it. The fortress in its present form dates to this
In the 16th century the Ottoman Turks stationed a garrison there, and
T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) made the fortress his desert
headquarters during the winter of 1917, during the Great Arab Revolt
against the Ottoman Empire. His office was in the chamber above the
entrance gatehouse. It had an additional advantage in modern
warfare: the flat nearby desert was an ideal place to build an
Inside the ruins of Qasr Azraq
Qasr al-Azraq is often included on day trips from
Amman to the desert
castles, along with
Qasr Kharana and Qasr Amra, both east of the
capital and reached via Highway 40. Admission is JD 2. Visitors can
explore most of the castle, both upstairs and downstairs, except for
some sections closed off while the rock is shored up. There is little
interpretive material at the moment.
^ a b c "Qasr Azraq". Rough Guides. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
^ Falls, Cyril (1964). Armageddon: 1918. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-8122-1861-9.
Retrieved June 12, 2009.
Umayyad Desert Castles
Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi
Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi
Israel and Palestine