Kharrana Castle



Qasr Kharana, (like all Arabic names the spelling can vary as the sounds cannot be translated exactly) is a far more defensive looking "castle," built as a huge square block.


Lying as it does just off the Iraq to Amman road, and close to the road leading from Saudi Arabian border, it would have had been in a very strategic position.


It is thought to have been built in the late 7th century, on the site of a Byzantine or Alexandrian structure. Its purpose, like that of the other "desert castles" is ambiguous, fortress, meeting place, way station? Whilst its exterior suggests defence, its interior is a vast warren of small rooms and passageways,


The 110 foot square building, built of rough limestone blocks, with defensive corner turrets and reinforced gatehouse, stands on a 50 foot high piece of land raised above the surrounding desert.


Inside the gateway lies a central courtyard with a central tank for the collection of rainwater, there is no natural water available on the site.


Surrounding the courtyard are the many rooms, accessed by stairways, with a maze of corridors, and alcoves. Their purpose is not easily understood, I cant imagine they are all bedrooms? A couple of larger rooms have evidence of decorative plasterwork and niches, and one room has evidence of being a place of worship, but in general the rooms are small and plain with very little light.


The arrow slits in the curtain walls are said to be purely for light and ventilation for the small rooms, as they are set too high for archers, however they certainly prevent access. They do however give little light to the outer rooms, whereas the inner rooms facing the courtyard have larger windows.


The design of the building is a bit of a conglomeration. It can be considered to follow a Syrian, Sassanid design, with Byzantine and Roman influences, several new materials were used in its construction including wooden lintels, which gave more flexibility during the frequent earthquakes.
















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