The palaces of al-Raqqa were built by the successive Muslim caliphs of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties. The location served both dynasties as a summer oasis capital (known at the time as al-Rusafa) for its position as a desert city on the Euphrates between Damascus and Baghdad. There are clear written accounts of the two Umayyad palaces built by the Caliph Hisham bin Abd al-Malek to the south of al-Raqqa, but the physical remains are still in the process of excavation. Remains indicate a square plan with a 6400 square meter area. The building followed a typical Umayyad palace structure with circular defense towers at the corners of thick outer wall surrounding a large central courtyard.
The ninth century Qasr al-Banat (Palace of the Maidens) was a recreational summer residence founded by the Abbasid Caliph Haroun al-Rashid. Remains of the palace trace an architectural plan of the building arranged around a large central courtyard with a fountain. A large iwan occupies each side of the courtyard, making Qasr al-Banat an exceptional example of the Iranian four-iwan plan in Syria. The palace was made of brick with iwans elaborately embellished with intricate patterns.
Two more Abbasid palaces have been uncovered in recent excavations just outside al-Raqqa's old city walls; one which was founded by Haroun al-Rashid and the other by the Caliph al-Ma'mun.
Burns, Ross. 1992. Monuments of Syria. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 199-201.
Rihawi, Abdul Qader. 1979. Arabic Islamic Architecture in Syria. Damascus: Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, 80-81.