9) The Azraq Castle (Blue Fortress)
The last location I want to go through this time is the Blue Fortress, also known as “Qasr Azraq” and “Azraq Castle”. The castle is quite a drive away from Amman, about 62 miles to the east. It is another really interest site to check out, although it might be a rather difficult place to photograph, as you will see below. The castle also has some great history, because it was first a settlement area, having the only water source in the desert. Here is the front entrance to the castle, with very heavy stone doors that you can actually relatively easily open and close yourself, thanks to the way they were attached to the structure with oiled bolts:
Looking up the front gate:
Qasr Azraq was then converted to a military structure by the Romans in early 4th century, which was again rebuilt and fortified in 1237 by the Ayyubid dynasty. In early 20th century, Lawrence of Arabia made the Azraq Castle his desert headquarters, during the Great Arab Revolt. Once you come through the entrance, you can see steps to the right, leading into the room where Lawrence of Arabia used to stay:
And here is the room itself:
I did not have a tripod with me, so shooting hand-held was rather difficult, since there is very little light in the room. I had to stop down to f/8 to get enough depth of field at such close distances, so my shutter speed dipped pretty low, but the image stabilization of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC again saved the day.
The Azraq Castle is a difficult place to photograph, because the stones are very dark when compared to the sky. And if you want to photograph anything indoors, you won’t get far without a tripod and an ultra wide angle lens.
Here is an image of a mosque inside Qasr Azraq that I photographed with the same setup, hand-held at f/11:
Again, it was a difficult shot and I had to increase my ISO beyond 3200 to get a fairly sharp image.
Some more opportunities to photograph some arches in the castle:
And here I photographed the other side of the castle, with stairs leading up to the top of the structure:
Again, a difficult shot, particularly on a sunny and cloudless day. Some flare from the sun can be visible to the right of the frame.
Lastly, as you leave the castle, there might be additional photo opportunities right outside. Here, I photographed the castle walls with a tree to the right, with the sun approaching the horizon:
It was not worth the wait for sunset that day (since the sky was clear), so we left after I took the above picture. If I were to come back to Azraq, I would plan on a day with some cloud action – there are certainly some good opportunities here at sunset time.
The nice thing about Qasr Azraq, is that it is rarely visited, so you can have the whole place to yourself for hours!
That’s about it for the first part of the tour of Jordan. Hope you enjoyed the information and the pictures! Meanwhile, I will be working on the second part of the trip, which will hopefully be even more interesting than the first one, especially when it comes to photography! I will cover my trips to Ajlun Castle, Petra and Wadi Rum, with the latter two being top attractions Jordan has to offer.
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