Qasr Kharana , sometimes Qasr al Harrana, Qasr al Kharanah, Kharaneh or Hraneh, is one of the best-known of the desert castles located in present-day eastern Jordan, about 60 kilometres (37 mi) east of Amman and relatively close to the border with Saudi Arabia. It is believed to have been built sometime before the early 8th century, based on a graffito in one of its upper rooms, despite visible Sassanid influences. A Greek or Byzantine house may have existed on the site. It is one of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture in the region.
Its purpose remains unclear today. "Castle" is a misnomer as the building's internal arrangement does not suggest a military use, and slits in its wall could not have been designed as balistraria, or arrow slits. It could have been a caravanserai, or resting place for traders, but lacks the water source such buildings usually had close by and is not on any major trade routes.
It remains very well preserved, whatever its original use. Since it is located just off a major highway and is within a short drive of Amman, it has become one of the most visited of the desert castles. Archaeologist Stephen Urice wrote his doctoral dissertation, later published as a book, on Qasr Kharana, based on his work restoring the building in the late 1970s
Qasr Kharana combines different regional traditions with the influence of the then-new religion of Islam to create a new style. Syrian building traditions influenced the design of the castle, with Sassanid building techniques applied.
The layout follows Syrian houses, themselves influenced by Byzantine and Roman customs. Several rooms are arranged around asaloon, with the house and another apartment arranged around a central courtyard. Like Sassanid buildings, the castle's structural system is transverse arches supporting barrel vaults.
The site made it necessary to modify those building techniques slightly. The arches are not connected to the carrying wall,