Qasr Azraq

Qasr Azraq


Location: 100 km (62 miles) East of Amman Map

Constructed: 13th century by Ayyubids


History of Qasr Azraq

Qasr Azraq or Blue Fortress is a ruined medieval stronghold located 100 km (62 miles) East of Amman in Jordan. The first military fortifications were constructed during the Roman times. It served for defense of the frontier of the Ancient Roman empire and defended nearby oasis against numerous enemies, especially the Parthians. Ayyubids undertook a massive reconstruction of Qasr Azraq in the 13th century, who used massive blocks of black basalt. Eventually it was turned over to the Ottoman Empire. During the Arab Revolt Qasr Azraq became famous in the West largely thanks to memoirs of T.E. Lawrence also known as a "Lawrence of Arabia".


The castle was of particular strategic importance due to its location in the middle of the Azraq Oasis, the only permanent source of fresh water in a desert region of approximately 12,000 kmĀ². This led to multiple conquests by different groups.

The area was originally inhabited by Nabataeans and fell under Roman control around AD 300 during the reign of Diocletian. The Romans built a stone structure from local basalt, which formed the basis for later buildings in the same place during the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad dynasty.

Qasr al-Azraq got its final appearance from 1237, when the Mamelukes, also under Izz ad-Din Aibak, remodeled it and expanded it into a castle.

The Ottomans built a garrison here in the 16th century. In the winter of 1917, Thomas Edward Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) established his headquarters here during the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. His office was in the chamber above the gatehouse.

The marshes near the Qasr al-Azraq offer shelter to a number of migratory birds. Numerous ducks, larks and lapwings, but also eagles, use the wetlands on their trip to Africa. The wetlands were once much larger - but the big cities like Amman used so much water that the wetlands in the middle of the desert shrank more and more. Today the government is again trying to preserve the remains of the swampy landscape.