Azraq Castle


Qasr Azraq


The strategic importance of Qasr Azraq cannot be overlooked. Set as it is at the centre of a vast 5,000 square mile of arid desert, with Azraq's oasis the only water source on this stretch of the Iraq-Jordan road. Built of locally quarried black basalt, it is known as the Blue Fortress?


This trade route was originally controlled by the Nabateans, but when the Romans took over in 300 BCE, they were the first to fortify the position with the large square fortress  built for its defence.


The castle was subsequently enlarged and strengthened by the Byzantines, the Umayyads and the Mamelukes. The small mosque standing in the centre of the courtyard is thought to be from the Umayyadic period. The fortress as seen today is the work carried out by the Mamelukes in 13th century CE, although it was used in the 16th century by the Ottoman Turks.


The curtain walls have large square towers set at each corner, and the fortified entrance gateway is closed by a massive granite door, thought to have been used as wood in the area is in very short supply. Although the door weighs several tons it can be closed quite easily thanks to it being lubricated by palm oil.


During the Great War T E Lawrence used Azraq as his headquarters when he was coordinating the Arab revolt against their Ottoman Turkish Rulers.


Some significant follow-ups to these events are: the number of boys in Jordan named Lawrence; the fact that the Turkish railways has never been used to carry passengers, it is only used to carry salt from the Dead Sea to Jordan's only sea port at Aqaba; and the fact that Lawrence's biggest supporter Abdullah, was to become the first king of Transjordan, from it's formation in 1921 until his assassination in 1951.




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