Palace of Caliph Hisham. Gateway.
8th c Jordanian Umayyad Architecture
(661 - 1031)
Qasr al-Hayr. Jordan.
Damascus. National Museum.
The Umayyad caliphs built a great number of elaborate palaces, some in the cities and others on the outskirts of the desert. Only scattered remains of these palaces are extant, and their function has been debated. Some scholars argue that the rural palaces were hunting retreats, while others argue that the Arab Caliphs used them to escape from the cities and return to their desert roots.
The upper portion of the entrance to the West Palace of Qasr al-Heir has been preserved at the Museum of Damascus. A review of the decorative details indicate borrowings from Persians and Romans, but the overall rich decorative patterning is typically Islamic.