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Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi

Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi (Arabic: قصر الحير الغربي‎) is a Syrian castle or qasr located 80 km south-west of Palmyra on the Damascus road. The castle is a twin palace of Qasr al-Hayr al-Sharqi, built by the Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 727 CE. It was built in the Byzantine architectural style.

Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi
قصر الحير الغربي
Qasr al-Heer al-Gharbi facade
Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi is located in Syria
Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi
Location within Syria
General information
Town or cityHoms Governorate
Coordinates34°22′28″N 37°36′21″E / 34.374444°N 37.605833°E / 34.374444; 37.605833


Ruins of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi (1950s)

Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi is one of a number of desert castles in the Syrian/Jordanian region. The site originally consisted of a palace complex, a bath house, industrial buildings for the production of olive oil, an irrigated garden and another building which scholars suggest may have been a caravanserai. Over the entrance is an inscription which declares that the it was built by Hisham in the year 727, a claim that is borne out by the architectural style.[1]

It was used as an eye of the king during the Umayyad era, to control the movement of the desert tribes and to act as a barrier against marauding tribes, as well as serving a hunting lodge. It is one of the most luxurious examples of a desert palace.[2] Later it was utilized by the Ayyubids and the Mamelukes but was abandoned permanently after the Mongol invasions.

The castle is quadrangular in outline with 70-meter sides. The central doorway to the castle is very attractive, and has been moved to the National Museum of Damascus to be used as the entrance. Its semi-cylindrical towers on the sides of the doorway, columns, and the geometric shapes mirrored a blend of Persian, Byzantine and Arab architecture.[3]

Little of the original castle remains; however the reservoir to collect water from Harbaka dam, a bath and a khan are still visible. The gateway is preserved as a façade in the National Museum of Damascus.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fowden, G., Qusayr 'Amra: Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria, University of California Press, 2004 p. 157
  2. ^ Petersen, A., Dictionary of Islamic Architecture, Routledge, 2002 , p. 238
  3. ^ Brend, B., Islamic Art, Harvard University Press, 1991, pp 24-26