One of the few free-standing structures in Petra, Qasr Al Bint was built in around 30 BCE by the Nabataeans. It was later adapted to the cult of Roman emperors and destroyed around the 3rd century CE. Despite the name given to it by the local Bedouin – Castle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter – the temple was originally built as a dedication to Nabataean gods and was one of the most important temples in Petra.
The temple once stood 23m high and its features included marble staircases, imposing columns, a raised platform for worship, and ornate plaster and stone reliefs – examples of which are housed in the display at the Petra Visitor Centre. The central ‘holy of holies’, known as an adyton, would have housed an image of the deities. The sacrificial altar in front, once overlaid with marble, indicates that it was probably the main place of worship in the Nabataean city and its location at street level suggests that the whole precinct (and not just the temple interior) was considered sacred.