Qasr Al-Mushatta

Date of Submission: 18/06/2001
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Department of Antiquities.
Coordinates: Utm East:216700 - Utm North: 3515500 UTM Zone:36
Ref.: 1555
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Description

Qasr (Palace) Al-Mushatta, the largest and most ambitious of the Umayyad palaces in Jordan, sits incongruously today 30 km .south of the capital Amman and just north of Queen Alia International Airport's north runway, easily reached by an 11-kilometre drive along the airport's perimeter road. It is surrounded by a square enclosure wall measuring 144metres on each side, including 25 semi-circular towers, and is visually striking because of the orange coloured fired bricks used in its construction. As you pass through the sole entrance gate, in the south wall, the sprawling remains hint at Mushatta's short-lived splendor. It would have been a showcase of early Islamic stonework and carved plaster; but the only remaining evidence are some pieces of finely carved stone with floral, animal and geometric motifs, including bold rosettes, large, rhythmic triangles, looped and grape-laden vine-stalks, acanthus leaves, and great octagons. Most of the ornate carvings were sent to Berlin at the turn of the century - a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid to Kaiser Wilhelm - and can be seen today in an East Berlin museum. Unfinished foundation stones near the south perimeter wall indicate. the layout of the buildings that were planned but never completed. The gate led into a series of rooms, courts and passageways forming an axial approach to the most important part of the palace, the triple-apsed "throne room" which was entered through a triple-arched arcade. This area at the north end of the palace is flanked by impressive barrel-vaulted rooms made of fired bricks on stone foundations. A niche in the south wall, just inside the main entrance, was probably the mihrab (prayer niche) of the palace mosque. Everywhere are signs of an architectural splendor that was never fully realized "column drums, capitals, pilaster bases, half arches and scattered carved stones. History The Monument is thought to have been started by the Caliph Walid II around 743-44 AD . just before the Umayyad dynasty gave way to the power of the Baghdad-based Abasid rulers. It was never completed.