This well-preserved castle is located about 16 kilometers west of Qusayr ‘Amra and 55 kilometers east of Amman. The spot is marked by an assortment of tall radio pylons on the other side of the highway.
Qasr al-Harraneh remains an enigma to archaeologists and historians. Some experts believe that it was a defensive fort, while others maintain it was a caravanserais for passing camel trains. Yet another theory is that it served as a retreat for Umayyad leaders to discuss affairs of state. With its high walls, arrow slits, four corner towers and square shape of a Roman fortress, Qasr al-Harraneh would appear to be a defensive castle. However, the towers are not large enough to have been an effective defense, and may have instead been built to buttress the walls.
The arrow slits are also cosmetic, being too narrow on the inside to allow archers sufficient visibility and too few in number for effective military usage. We do know that an inscription in a second-story room dates the construction of Qasr al-Harraneh to 711 CE. The presence of Greek inscriptions around the main entrance frame suggests that the castle was built on the site of a Roman or Byzantine building.
Interior shot of Qasr al-Harraneh.