شارع الحرية 230، عمّان، Jordan
Photo by Arkady Zakarov/Shutterstock
Qasr AmraWhile Jordan’s eastern desert isn’t very popular with tourists, it holds some unexpected treasures. More than 1,000 years ago, when the country wasn’t so dry, the Umayyads built “desert castles” in this area as part of their trading network. Of those structures, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qasr Amra is the finest. It’s not so much a castle as a combination of caravanserai and exclusive hunting lodge, where Umayyad rulers retreated when they needed a break from city life in Damascus. Built in the 8th century by Umayyad caliph Walid I, whose reign also saw the construction of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock and Damascus’s Umayyad Mosque, the castle features a reception hall and bath house covered in exuberant and surprisingly gaudy frescoes. The content depicted, which includes bathing nudes, hunting scenes, and royal portraits, will change your perception of art in the early days of Islam.