Qasr al-Tuba

The most southerly and remote of a group of castles built by the Ummayad caliphs of Damascus in the first half of the eighth century.It is a wonderful place deep in the desert,decorated with columns and paintings and inscriptions.Bedouin in thier origin,the caliphs escaped at every opportunity from the city to the unconfining desert where they could hawk and hunt and race thier Arab horses.

But the city had already left its mark on them,and instead of camping in black tents,they soon built a scattering of palaces made beautiful with arches and columns,frescoes and carvings,and luxurious with heated baths,spacious courtyards and great halls for music and dancing.They are enchanting examples of Islamic architecture.

Qasr al-Tuba,the largest of the Ummayad palaces of Jordan,has been dated to 743-4,when the dissolute Walid II was caliph.It consists of two symmetrical and matching enclosures,side by side,forming almost a double square.Only the buildings of the north corner are still nearly intact,and most of the lower part of the western wall;but the outline of the rest of the complex-which was probably never completed-is clear from the air.The walls are of three courses of stone,above which they are built of sun-dried mud bricks,as are the barrel-vaulted roofs.Stone was also used to frame the door arches;and there was found some finely carved stone door jambs and lintels-but these have long since disappeared.

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