From its strategic location to its natural water sources, the Jordanian town of Azraq has long held significance. Situated in the Azraq Oasis, it serves as the only permanent source of fresh water in approximately 12,000 square kilometers of desert. This opulent land has seen centuries of visitors from Lawrence of Arabia to rare birds from around the world.
Did you know?
Azraq contains two major nature reserves: The Azraq Wetlands and The Shomari Reserve.
The town is home to multiple ethnic groups, including Druze and Chechens who settled in the town in the early 1900s.
Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, were drawn to Azraq in the early 20th century for its farming and fishing opportunities. They still maintain their language and traditions until today!
Water Buffalo, once extinct in the reserve, have been reintroduced to the Wetlands Reserve - if you’re lucky, you can find them there!
More than 280 unique species of migratory birds have been recorded in Azraq - some originating from as far off as Africa and Scandinavia!
Qasr Al Azraq (Azraq Castle) famously served as a Castle for Lawrence of Arabia, and you can find architectural examples from multiple eras at this historic site! It was originally built by the Romans in the early 4th century. The Umayyads used the site as a hunting palace and in the 13th century, the Ayyubids significantly expanded the castle and used it to defend against Crusaders. Later, Turks stationed a garrison at the site in the 16th century and in 1918, Arabs (and Lawrence of Arabia) used the site during the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
Fun Fact: The entrance of Qasr Al Azraq has indents from when guards would play board games using pebbles.
Human activity has not only affected this desert oasis landscape through the depletion of natural wetlands— since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the population of Azraq has nearly doubled from the influx of refugees.
With strains on all sectors of the economy in Azraq town, The Syria Fund is committed to providing opportunities for Syrians and Jordanians to improve their situations and create stronger social cohesion. This starts with getting every kid back in school.
At The Azraq Center, we believe that giving children a seat in a classroom is an essential first step in addressing their needs, but we also know that more is needed. In addition to remedial education provided on a daily basis, we enrich our students lives with classes in art, music, and more. And not only that, we want our kids to connect with their community and know the rich history of the town they live in! We take field trips to local historic sites as our students spend time discovering the history, geography, and ethnic diversity of their town!