Quseir Amra literally means the Red Castle. The name comes from the reddish stone with which it was built, which makes it stand out like a ruby in the yellowish, ochre surroundings. It was built between the 7th and 8th century by the Umayyad dynasty, the first to hold the caliph of the recently established Islamic culture. It was a time of internal fighting to establish power and resist the push of other civilisations, such as the Seleucids, the Byzantine Empire or the Christians, still too weak to present a major threat. The tension of the period was compensated by the hedonism that dominated Arab culture. This culture had traditionally cultivated both the pleasures of the intellect and of the senses and the physical result of this conjunction was the palace or castle. They acted both as defensive enclaves and as pleasure villas in the purest Roman style. Like their Roman versions, they were located on the outskirts of urban areas and included vast recreational zones, such as game preserves, gardens, thermal baths, and agricultural land where they grew food for their own sustenance. The most frequent type of castle was one with a square ground plan with four large turrets at the corners, two storeys high, with a "peristilo" - a central patio with classical style porticos, a mosque, the throne room, the "haman" - the thermal baths, the "bayts" - the living quarters. The only thing left standing today of the beautiful Quseir Amra complex is the haman area, or thermal baths, with a frigidarium or cool room, that was visibly extended to make room for a rest and relaxation room. The castle is not only striking for its architectural value but also for the paintings that adorn its walls, surprising to the western viewer, considering that Islamic art hardly ever includes figurative representation. Today, the Quseir Amra frescos offer us an unusually beautiful exception.