Name of Monument:



Al-Qastal, Jordan

Date of Monument:

Hegira, before 126 / AD 744

Period / Dynasty:



Probably Caliph Yazid ibn 'Abd al-Malik (r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–4).


Al-Qastal is situated approximately 25 km to the south of Amman, along the desert highway. The complex comprises a palace, a mosque of which only the minaret survives, and a bathhouse and domestic quarters. A vast water-collection system with a substantial dam and aqueduct is partially preserved to the east of the site. The palace is a square building of about (68 m x 68 m), the best preserved part of which is its southern wall. A circular tower articulates each of the four corners of the palace and three semi-circular interval towers are located along all of its walls, except for the eastern wall, where the entrance to the building is located. The eastern wall has two corner towers and two semi-circular interval towers. The middle semi-circular tower was split to provide access to the gateway. The decorated doorjamb of the entrance is still visible.
Beyond the entrance is a gatehouse with stairs at both sides. Six self-contained residential units (bayts) are organised around a central courtyard (40 m x 40 m sq) surrounded by porticoes. Each bayt is composed of four rooms organised around a rectangular courtyard. Sections of the mosaic floors are preserved. A postern-gate on the northern side leads to the mosque. The minaret and the cemetery associated with the mosque are believed to be amongst the oldest surviving anywhere. Some of the Abbasid inscribed tombstones in Madaba Archaeological Museum originated from al-Qastal. During the Ayyubid/Mamluk period (AH 6th–10th / AD 12th–16th centuries) the complex was converted into domestic quarters.

View Short Description

Situated around 25 km to the south of Amman, the monument is a complex comprising a palace, a mosque, a bathhouse and domestic quarters. The palace is a square building of about 68 m x 68 m and has preserved sections of mosaic floors. It probably belonged to the Caliph Yazid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik (r. AH 101–5 / AD 720–4). The minaret and the cemetery associated with the mosque are believed to be among the oldest surviving anywhere. To the east of the main complex there is a vast, partially preserved, water-collection system with a substantial dam and aqueducts.

How Monument was dated:

Although the debate continues among scholars regarding the date of the complex, historical sources and analysis of certain stylistic characteristics support an Umayyad (Pre-126 / 744) date for its completion. When al-Walid II (r. 125–6 / 743–4) visited the area, al-Qastal was in existence. The layout of the monument, bayts around a courtyard, has much in common with other Umayyad monuments such as Qasr al-Kharanah. H. Gaube (1977) attributed the palace and the mosque to the period between 101 and 126 / 720 and 744.

Selected bibliography:

ديوان كثيرعزة، تحقيق إحسان عباس'بيروت' 1971' صفحه 340–341
صالح درادكه' طريق الحج ألشامي في ألعصور ألإسلاميه' عمان' 1997
Carlier, P., Qastal, Château Umayyade, unpublished Phd thesis (Univesité de Provence Aix-Marseille), 1984.
Carlier, P., and Morin, F., “Recherches Archéologiques au Château de Qastal (Jordanie)” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 27, 1984.
Creswell, K. A. C., and Allan J. W., A Short Account of Early Muslim Architecture, Cairo, 1989, pp.173–7.
Gaube, H., “Amman, Harane und Qastal: Vier frühislamische Bauwerke in Mitteljordanien”, in Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins 93, 1977, pp.52–86.
Piccirillo, M., “Chiese e Mosaici di Giordania 1983”, Liber Annuus 33, 1987, pp.415–16.

Citation of this web page:

Mohammad Najjar "Qastal" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2023. 2023.;ISL;jo;Mon01;1;en

Prepared by: Mohammad NajjarMohammad Najjar

Mohammad Najjar is an archaeologist and has been Director of Excavations and Surveys at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan since 1988. He studied archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in 1982 as Curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. He was the Technical Director of Cultural Resources Management (sites development) at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities between 1994 and 1997. He is the author of numerous publications on the archaeology of Jordan.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: JO 01


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

Water | Water Management


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)