Al-Mushatta Palace 

 

Al-Mushatta Palace lies 30 Kilometers south of Amman, and is located between Qasr al- Qastal and Qasr al-Muwaqqar, placing it within the line-of-site of the communication network. The ‘patrol’ network of the Umayyad palaces could have not been complete without Mushatta palace. 

It is the largest of the Umayyad Palaces in Jordan (144x144m2), surrounded by an outer wall of 3-5.5 meters high with 25 towers, amongst which four are round cornered and two are octagonal flanking the main gate. It has at least 30 cisterns associated with it, and hosts a system of pools and elaborate pipes which may have been intended for a bath complex. The Palace was used to commemorate the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid II (743-744 AD). It is suspected that the incompletion of the palace was related to the political turbulence of that period, as the Abbasids took control of the Arab Empire and moved the capital to Baghdad. 

Al-Mushatta is considered a showcase of the early Islamic combination of limestone and brick work with carved plaster of floral, animal, and geometric motifs. It consists mainly of the entrance hall, a mosque to the eastern part (with a mihrab still evident), an audience hall and the residential quarters in the western part organized around central courtyards (57.3 x 57.15m) dedicated for guards, dignitaries and royal cortege. The Palace has Byzantine and Sasanian influences. It is divided into three sections, of which the middle part consists of the throne room and corresponding structures. A triumphal arch leads to the middle part. It rises on four pillars, giving its central arch a span of over 6.5m. Three rosettes decorated the upper part of the side arches. 

The throne room has a brick dome and is surrounded by 4 compounds for the royal household and domestic use. Each compound is comprised of two barrel-vaulted suites lit by 2 oculus windows, and shares a courtyard with another compound. This arrangement is based on a classical model that goes back to the 3rd century AD, and reflects a common plan followed in civilian Umayyad buildings as seen in Syria today. The Palace’s facade wall was given as a gift to Kaiser Wilhelm by the Ottoman Sultan Abd Al-Hamid just before WWI, and is now kept in the Pergamon museum in Berlin. Recently, The German Government has carried out restoration works at the site and plans to build a replica of the real façade.