Photography Henk Bos | Qasr Halabat
Visitors 107
Modified 17-Feb-13
Created 16-Feb-13
32 photos

The complex of Qasr al-Hallabat is located in Jordan's eastern desert. Originally a Roman fortress constructed under Emperor Caracalla to protect its inhabitants from Bedouin tribes, this site dates to the second and third century AD, although there is trace evidence of Nabatean presence at the site. It was one fort of many on the Roman highway, Via Nova Traiana, a route that connected Damascus to Aqaba by way of Petra and Amman. However, by the eighth century, the Umayyad Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ordered for the Roman structures to be demolished in order to redevelop this military site and its neighboring territory to become one of the grandest of all Umayyad desert complexes.
Guided by the extant plan, he incorporated a mosque (found 15 meters from the southeast of the main structure), a complicated water system including five cisterns and a considerably large water reservoir, and a bathhouse. Furthermore, situated to the west of the palace remains an enclosed structure probably used for agricultural purposes such as cultivating olive trees and/or grapevines. While only one-layered stone footprint of the agricultural structure still stands today, three wall sections of the mosque, including the mihrab in the southern wall, remain intact. The main palace is constructed of black basalt and limestone and has a square floorplan with towers at each corner. Grand in stature, the principal structures were further enhanced with decorative mosaics depicting an assortment of animals, detailed frescoes and highly crafted stucco carvings. The site remains to be completely restored.
Approximately 1400 meters east of the palace stands the remains of the mosque at Qusayr al-Hallabat. Small in scale, it measures 10.70 by 11.80 meters and is constructed of layered limestone. Inside, two arching riwaqs divide the mosque into three sections. A rounded molding extends the perimeter of the space at the height of 2.10 meters. Similar to Qusayr 'Amra and Qasr Hammam as Sarah, three tunnel vaults support the roof of the structure. Encircling the mosque from the north, west, and east stood a 3.30-meter wide portico.
Entrance of the mosqueEntrance of the mosqueEast sideWest sideInner courtDecorationsMosaics in Court2WaterworksMosaicsMosaicsMosaicsView to the north with waterwell and drainage systemTower on south sideOngoing excavationsOngoing excavationsWest side of the mosqueGreek inscriptions