In the colder season there are still many places you can visit in Jordan. Especially, those that are situated in wide open places without shadow are more suitable for a visit in Winter. Previously, we visited already the Desert Castles, Karak Castle, Azraq Castle or Ajloun Castle in the North. Recently, we made our way to a few smaller castles near the Desert Highway that I haven’t visited before. We visited Qasr Al-Mushatta, Qasr Al-Dab’ah and later Umm ar-Rasas, where I have been once before. You can reach all of the place within one hour of driving from Amman. Also check my newer posts about further Desert Castles and Umm el-Jimal.
Our first stop was the 8th century castle Al-Mushatta right neat to the airport. Mshatta literally means Winter, so the palace most likely has been used as a Winter residence or rest place. One of the original facades was given to Germany upon building the Hejaz Railway. You can see it at the Islamic Museum in Berlin today. Since 2013, scientists are restoring the old ruins. The palace features some impressive arches but is otherwise not too special. The road to reach the castle, is one of the worst in whole Jordan, as it is used by heavy trucks delivering to the airport. Parking is possible directly in front of the castle. At the site there are a lot of lizards. If you don’t like them, take that into account. We even got lucky and saw some camels walking by.
The small castle lies a bit off the desert highway, no to far from Amman. It is probably also initially a rest stop because of its size. The main exterior is still in good condition and you can climb a bit up inside and have a view over the vast landscapes surrounding. The architecture itself is not very stunning. Right in front of the walls there is a small cemetery.
This is my second visit to Um ar-Rasas and I discovered even more now. The site is pretty large and features ruins of several old buildings, rooms, churches, an Islamic cemetery and last but not least Jordan’s largest mosaic. The UNESCO world heritage site lies between the Desert Highway and the King’s Highway one hour South of Amman. The site was built in the 5th century and has been used by the Romans and later Islamic civilizations. It is a huge area, where you can wonder around and discover many small caves, shapes, patterns and mosaics. Under a roof for protection, you can find the largest mosaic of Jordan. It is well preserved and features several different scenes, from houses, hunting animals or nature. If you enjoyed this article, also check out our visit to The Desert Castles.