Qasr Al-Abd is an ancient Hellenistic-style monument located near to the village of Iraq al-Amir, just a short distance from Amman, Jordan’s capital city.
The monument dates back to around 200 BCE, and it is the only Hellenistic monument ever discovered in Jordan. Despite being the subject of intense research, the ruins of Qasr Al-Abd remain shrouded in mystery.
Translated into English, the name of this site would be Castle of the Slave or Castle of the Servant. Archeologists have determined that the building was part of a large estate, and that it was once surrounded by a moat, but nobody knows for certain what purpose this building once served.
While Qasr Al-Abd might not be one of the most exciting Jordan tourist attractions, it is certainly one of the most mysterious ones.
The Legend of the Castle of the Slave
If an ancient monument is shrouded in mystery, there is bound to be a local legend concerning it, and Qasr Al-Abd is no exception.
According to one local legend, Qasr Al-Abd was built by a commoner called Tobias after he fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy nobleman. Having fallen in love with nobleman’s daughter, Tobias asked her father if he could have her hand in marriage.
Since it was not customary for a nobleman’s daughter to take the hand of a commoner, her father told Tobias that he would only agree to the marriage if Tobias first built a palace.
Tobias agreed, and he set about building what is today called the Palace of the Slave.
Unfortunately, the nobleman still could not come to terms with the idea of a commoner marrying his daughter, so instead, he decided to have Tobias killed.
Was the Palace of the Slave Actually a Mausoleum?
While there is no definitive proof that Qasr Al-Abd was built to serve as a family mausoleum, many archeologists and historians believe this to be the case.
According to this theory, Tobias was a nobleman who came from the very powerful Tobiad family. He was also governor of Ammon, and it was he who built Qasr Al-Abd.
Some researchers believe that he built the complex to serve as a summer palace for himself and his family, but most researchers believe it served as a family mausoleum.
The Tobiad family’s name is also seen at a number of nearby tomb caves. It is believed that deceased family members would originally have been buried in these caves, and then their remains later transferred to the mausoleum.
A carving in one of these caves also depicts a lioness shielding a cub at Qasr Al-Abd.
Further credence is given to this theory by the fact that large statues and carvings of animals such as panthers, lions and eagles adjourn parts of the building’s exterior walls. This sort of symbolism can routinely be seen on mausoleums dating back to this era.
The overall design also lends weight to the mausoleum theory. The lower floor is divided into a number of small rooms/chambers, none of which would be able to receive much natural light.
On the other hand, the upper floor was designed to allow in plenty of light and fresh air. While the bottom floor would have served as a crypt, the upper floor would have been used on special occasions to honor those whose remains were stored in the crypt below.
Visiting Qasr Al-Abd
Unfortunately, Qasr Al-Abd was severely damaged by an earthquake in 362 AD, leaving most of the complex in ruins. However, the site has been partially restored, and today it is popular tourist attraction.
Not only is it a fascinating site to visit, but it is also a great choice for anyone who just feels like getting away from the hustle and bustle of Amman.
Like all historical sites in Jordan, Qasr Al-Abd is best visited in the company of an experienced guide.
However, our tour packages are fully customizable and can be tailored to meet your exact needs.
If your preferred itinerary does not include a visit to this site but you would like it to, simply let us know, and we will make the necessary changes to your chosen itinerary.