This is one of only two of Jordan’s Desert castles that seem to be built for defense. But here this may be more apparent than real – the ‘arrow-slits’ are too high and small and must have been for air and light. Nor was it a caravanserai as it is not on a trade route.
Most likely it was a place where the Umayyad rulers could meet with bedouin of the desert, to negotiate their support.
The castle is built of undressed stones, with smaller stones laid in rows between them; it was originally plastered all over. 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 building consists of two storeys around an open courtyard. The stables are to left and right just inside the gate, while accommodation for human beings is around the three other sides of the courtyard and on the upper floors. In one of the upper room’s a painted Kufic inscription over a door bears the date 92 Mi (AD 710-I I), in the reign of Walid I, but it is unclear if this refers to the original construction or a later rebuilding.
A feature of Qasr al-Kharanah is the use of arches and vaults in every room, many with semi-domes and squinches; arches also spring from groups of three small engaged columns. All the rooms were plastered and carved with decorative patterns.
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