KARBALA, Iraq — The once-mighty Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir is wasting away in the desert of Karbala. This great palace, which Abbasid Prince Isa ibn Musa built for his retirement from politics, is crumbling from lack of maintenance. Its internal and external structures collapsed as the strong wind in the desert washed away its extremities, and its foundations have weakened because salinity has found its way into the walls.
The fortress, also known as the Abbasid palace of Ukhaidir, was built around 778 about 105 kilometers (65 miles) southwest of Baghdad. The palace towers almost 70 feet high and is more than 550 feet wide. The name Ukhaidir — derived from akhdar, the Arabic word for green — contradicts its surroundings, where only the sun and dull-yellow stretches of sand exist.