Jordan: Quseir Amra

Quseir Amra aka Qasr Amra is by far the best known desert castle in Jordan. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. The castle was built in 723-743 by the future Umayyad caliph Whalid II. On the outside is not particularly impressively although still elaborate for the 8th century. But what is truly mind blowing are the frescos inside. They are everywhere – on the walls, columns, ceiling, domes! In fact, the earliest known representation of heaven with all the constellations and zodiac signs on a hemisphere is here on the main dome. There are many hunting and royal life scenes as well as a lot of naked bathing women. There’s also a famous “six kings” fresco of various kings kneeling in front of the caliph. Interestingly, the castle and frescos laid abandoned in the desert until 1898 when it was rediscovered, and drawings of the frescoes taken to Europe.