Tour the modern and ancient capital of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, Amman. Amman has a population of about 2.8 million people and is a busy commercial and administrative center. It is home to many fine hotels, restaurants, art galleries, three museums, as well as old markets and Souks that sell gold and spices. Modern boutiques offer everything from local handicrafts to the latest imported fashions.
History and Architecture
Towering above Amman, in an area known as the “citadel”– excavations have revealed structures from the Neolithic period through to the Hellenistic, late Roman period to the Arab-Islamic period. The structures include: the Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad palace, and a Byzantine church. At the foot of the citadel, carved into the hill, lies the roman theater. Having 6,000 seats, it is still used for various events to this very day.
The marvels of nature and the genius of medieval Arab military architecture have given northern Jordan two of the most important ecological and historical attractions in the Middle East: the sprawling pine forests of the Ajloun-Dibbine area, and the towering Ayyubid castle at Ajloun, which helped to defeat the Crusaders eight centuries ago.
Ajloun Castle (Qal’at Ar-Rabad) was built by one of Saladin’s generals in 1184 AD to control the iron mines of Ajloun, and to deter the Franks from invading Ajloun. Ajloun Castle dominated the three main routes leading to the Jordan valley and protected the trade and commercial routes between Jordan and Syria; it became an important link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders, who unsuccessfully spend decades trying to capture the castle and the nearby village.
After Ajloun Castle we drive to Tell Mar Elias and Anjara where we will have a garden lunch at Lady of the Mountain village under ice pine, olive and fig trees. The ladies of the village will prepare this wonderful home cooked meal and the profit goes to helping out the community and orphanage.
After lunch we head to Jerash – A close second to Petra on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan–the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. Jerash lies on a plain surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins. Conquered by General Pompey in 63 BC, it came under Roman rule and was one of the ten great Roman cities, the Decapolis League.
The city’s golden age came under Roman rule, during which time it was known as Gerasa, and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theaters, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates.