Desert Castle Loop - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Desert Castle Loop

Desert Castle Loop

Stretching to the east of Amman towards Saudi Arabia and Iraq is the vast desert plain where a cluster of historic ruins such as castles, forts, baths and palaces have been preserved and are collectively known as desert castles. Their purpose is largely unknown, but most are thought to have been built as recreational retreats by the Umayyad caliphs during the early Islamic Period (7th to 8th centuries AD). Qasr Mushatta is the biggest and most elaborate of the castles, a fine example of Umayyad architecture although it was never completed. The best preserved and most enchanting is the luxurious bathhouse of Qusayr 'Amra, with its domed ceiling and colourful interior frescoes and mosaics, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other desert castles include the black rock fortress at Azraq, which was the desert headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia during the Great Arab Revolt in 1917, the mysterious Qasr al-Kharrana, Qasr al-Hallabat's crumbling remains and the well-preserved complex at Qastal.

Information & Facts

East and south of Amman
No admission fee is required, but in some cases the castle may be locked and the caretaker will expect a tip to open it
Arabic is the official language, but English is understood by most people involved in the tourist industry and by middle to upper class Jordanians.

The official currency is the Dinar (JOD), which is divided into 100 piastres or 1,000 fils. Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be changed at any bank or moneychanger, although the latter will usually give a better rate of exchange. Banks are closed on Fridays. Better hotels will also exchange money. American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are the most widely accepted credit cards and can be used at major hotels, restaurants and tourist shops; cash can be withdrawn from inside banks. ATMs are available, though acceptance of foreign cards is limited.

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