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Royal Palaces
Raghadan Palace
King Abdullah I salutes the flag on the steps of Raghadan Palace on Independence Day, 25 May 1949. Behind the King are Prince Talal, then heir apparent, and Prince Nayef.

Prince Abdullah Bin Al Hussein and his entourage arrived at the Amman Railway Station in March 1921.
Their objective: to establish an independent Arab state on the territory of modern Jordan, which had been colonised by Britain, following the collapse of the Kingdom of Syria. Prince Abdullah took residence in a humble Ottoman-style house opposite the Roman Theatre, in the heart of what is downtown Amman, today.
By 1923, the Prince had secured Britain's recognition of his independent government. For this, and for his establishment of key state institutions, he is regarded as the founding father of Jordan.

© Royal Hashemite Court Archives

In 1924, Prince Abdullah designated a hill overlooking the city centre as the seat of governance, and ordered the construction of Raghadan Palace.The site gazed westwards towards the ruins of various ancient civilisations that inhabited the area.

The view stretched from the Citadel Hill, with its ruins of Rabboth Ammon, Roman Philadelphia and an early Islamic palace complex, down to the Roman Theatre and beyond to the remnants of a deserted Byzantine church and an 8th century Umayyad mosque, upon which Prince Abdullah later built the Husseini Mosque.

© Royal Hashemite Court Archives

Raghadan means “the very best life.” The palace was designed by Lebanese architect Saadedinne Chatella. Stone masons from Damascus, Jerusalem and Nablus worked stone from Maan in southern Jordan, embellishing the façade with architectural motifs from various Islamic eras, including the Umayyad, Mamluk and Ottoman, whose empires had once reached Amman. Jordan’s own coat of arms is also carved into the exterior arches near the entrance.

The interior design was influenced by one of the palaces of King Farouq of Egypt, in which Prince Abdullah used to stay as a guest. Construction of Raghadan Palace took three years, at a cost of 1,600 Palestinian pounds.

This solid palace withstood the earthquake that shook Amman on 11 July 1927, as it neared completion.

His Majesty King Abdullah II inspects the honour guard in the courtyard of Raghadan Palace in 2005 before hearing the reply to the Speech from the Throne. King Hussein and the delegations of North and South Yemen congregate inside Raghadan Palace on 20 February 1994, in anticipation of the signing of the reconciliation agreement between the two countries.

Although Raghadan Palace is largely used for ceremonial functions today, it witnessed many important events in Jordan's political, economic and social life. Originally, it served as both the residence of Prince Abdullah and the seat of governance. Proclaimed King Abdullah I in 1946, he regularly opened Raghadan's doors for public mourning upon the death of a Jordanian notable or to shelter a political refugee. King Abdullah I also was a devoted patron of Arab cultural traditions and the early years of Raghadan Palace are well remembered for the regular gatherings of writers and poets in the front courtyard.

© Royal Hashemite Court Archives

Here, intellectual-cultural circles discussed the issues of the day, and some of the great Arab poets of the era – Omar Abu Risheh, Abdul Munim Rifai, Abdul Muhsin Kathimi, Fouad Khatib, Kamil Shuaib Amili, Dia Uddin Rifai and “Arar,” Mustafa Wahbi Tell – recited poetry for each other and for King Abdullah, who was particularly fond of this esteemed form of Arab art. In the same courtyard, the King, who was a keen equestrian and fond of thoroughbreds, used to admire the horses that were presented to him. King Abdullah’s father, Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, also resided in the palace upon his return from six years of exile (1925-1930) in Cyprus. He died here, following an illness, on 3 June 1931. His legacy is commemorated in Raghadan by a plaque at the entrance of his office, which still holds some original furniture.

The Raghadan courtyard is flanked by two antique British canons used in World War I, a gift to King Abdullah I from British officials. The courtyard leads to the palace's understated front entrance with its high-ceilinged terrace. Embellishing the upper frame of the wooden front door is the Jordanian coat of arms, which was officially adopted in August 1934, although its design dates to 1921, when King Abdullah I commissioned an official state insignia.

© Royal Hashemite Court Archives

The spacious waiting area adjoining the Office of the Monarch is notable for its colourful, high ceiling, which bears inscriptions and poetry in Arabic calligraphy. Verses describe the beauty of Raghadan Palace as an abode of the descendants of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and a place of sovereignty, happiness and unparalleled generosity. Others describe the origins of the palace's name. One inscription notes that the verses were penned by Saleem Hanafi in 1926. The ceiling’s design was inspired by the throne hall in the Aleppo Citadel, a Mamluk construction in northern Syria. This office was regularly used by the late King Hussein and today is the formal office of His Majesty King Abdullah II.

The Throne Hall’s arabesque wooden and glass entrance is framed by polished marble and white alabaster. The entry opens onto an oval chamber leading to a slightly elevated mastaba on which the Hashemite Throne is situated. Here, the reigning monarch performs highly ceremonial official duties, such as reading the Speech from the Throne and receiving the credentials of foreign diplomats.

© Royal Hashemite Court Archives

In this room, King Hussein made one of the most dramatic announcements of his reign, a defining moment in the history of Jordan. On 2 March 1956, he announced the dismissal of John Bagot Glubb (also known as Glubb Pasha), the British commander of the Arab Legion, bringing it under full Arab authority for the first time in the legion’s history. The Throne Hall also has a funerary function, as the place where all Hashemite monarchs lie in state upon their passing, while royal family members, foreign heads of state and dignitaries pay their last respects. In 1982, a fire claimed the roof of the Throne Hall, which was rebuilt according to the original design.

The Hashemite Throne was originally designed and crafted in 1926. Next to the throne is a table with an arabesque stand holding the Holy Quran. On either side of the throne is a flag: to the right, the Jordanian national flag; to the left, the flag of the Hashemite Monarchy.

The throne was redesigned, as pictured here (c. 2000), after an observer noted that the Egyptian woodworkers had included distinctly Egyptian symbolism: Cleopatra motifs on both of the wooden armrests.

© Royal Hashemite Court Archives
© Royal Hashemite Court Archives

In this photo from the vantage point of the mastaba and throne, one looks across the chamber of the Throne Hall towards the entrance, through which are seen decorative windows that illuminate a stairway leading to the hall.

Although the windows were an original feature of Raghadan Palace, the colours now shading the glass are an artistic flourish added by Jordanian artists in 1982.