Qasr al-Farid

The Qasr al-Farid (قصر الفريد), meaning ‘the Lonely Castle’, is located in the archaeological site of Madâin Sâlih (known also as al-Hijr or Hegra) in the north of Saudi Arabia. Although called a castle, the Qasr al-Farid was actually a tomb constructed around the 1st century CE.

circa 100 CE

The Nabataean Kingdom ruled over an area that spanned from the southern Levant to northern Arabia, a position that allowed them to control the Incense Route that passed through the Arabian Peninsula. As a result of this lucrative trade, the Nabataeans grew immensely wealthy and powerful. One expression of this wealth can be seen in the monuments they built. One such monument is the Qasr al-Farid. It is an unfinished tomb that stands alone is the largest tomb at the Mada’in Saleh archaeological site.

circa 100 CE

Reported to be four stories high such monuments were meant to be an indication of the wealth and the social status. Unlike other tombs in it's surroundings Qasr al-Farid has four pillars rather than two. As the quality of the work is rougher on the lower part of the tomb’s façade, it has been suggested that the monument was fashioned from the top down. It may also be possible that other similar monuments were also made in such a manner.

circa 100 CE

Interior

circa 100 CE

North-east exposure of the Qasr al-Farid "lonely castle". The Qasr al-Farid is just one of the over 100 monumental tombs scattered around the landscape of the Madâin Sâlih, a site which was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2008. The Qasr al-Farid is one of the most famous tombs in Madâin Sâlih, and was named as such due to the fact that it is completely isolated from the other tombs situated in the area. This is unusual, given that most of the monumental tombs in Madâin Sâlih were found to have been made in groups, like Qasr al-Bint tombs, the Qasr al-Sani tombs, and the tombs of the Jabal al-Mahjar area.

circa 100 CE

Rear exposure. The enigmatic Nabataeans were originally a nomadic tribe, but about 2,500 years ago, they began building great settlements and cities which prospered from the first century BC to the first century CE, including the magnificent city of Petra in Jordan. As well as their agricultural activities, they developed political systems, arts, engineering, stonemasonry, astronomy, and demonstrated astonishing hydraulic expertise, including the construction of wells, cisterns, and aqueducts.

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