Qasr al-Kharaneh

The only one of the Umayyad desert castles which looks as if it were built with defence in mind is Qasr al-Kharaneh, though this may be more apparent than real.It is constructed of large,undressed stones,with smaller stones laid in rows between them.The exterior was originally completely plastered,emphasising its solid appearance.Its uncompromising squareness is broken by a round tower at each corner and a semi-circular one in the middle of each wall,except on the south side where the sole entrance occupies the centre.The arrow-slits may have been for ventilation rather than defence. Set on the path of several ancient trade routes,it was probably used as a caravansery.

Inside,it is divided into two storeys with a small open courtyard in the centre.Stables for the animals are to the left and right just inside the gate,while accommodation for people is around the three other sides of the courtyard and on the upper floor.In one of the upper rooms a painted Kufic inscription over the door bears the date 711,in the tme of Caliph Walid I;but there is doubt whether this referes to the original construction or a later rebuilding.One of the features of Qasr al-Kharaneh is the considerable use of arches and vaults in every room,some of them with semi-domes,and the arches in many cases spring from groups of three engaged columns.All the rooms were plastered and often carved with decorative patterns.
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