For many people Jordan begins and ends with the supernatural ancient Nabataean city of Petra. And it’s true, Petra is without doubt one of the Middle East’s most spectacular, must seeing sights, battling it out with Machu Picchu or Angkor Wait for the title of the world’s most dramatic ‘lost city’. It is what attracts millions of travelers to visit Jordan and hundreds of airline to launch routes for this amazing destination. Cheap flights to Jordan form London sell like hot cakes while the rest of Europe also has sees a tug-of-war for cheap flight fares to Jordan in holiday seasons.
The Top Picks
Yet there’s so much more to see in Jordan – ruined Roman cities, Crusader castles, desert citadels and influential biblical sites: the stream where Jesus was baptized, the fortress where Herod beheaded John the Baptist and the mountain top where Moses cast eyes on the Promised Land. Biblical scenes are not just consigned to the past in Jordan; you’ll see abundance of men wearing full-flowing robes and most important herds of livestock across the timeless desert. But it’s not all crusty ruins. Jordan’s capital Amman is a modern, ethnically miscellaneous Arab city which is light years away from the typical clichés of Middle Eastern exoticism. The country also offers some of the wildest adventures in the region, as well as an extremely varied backdrop ranging from the red desert sands of Wadi Rum to the luminous blues of the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba; from rich palm-filled wadis to the unconscious Dead Sea. In the end it’s the corporal delights of daily life in the Middle East that you’ll hanker for best ever after you return home; the bittersweet taste of cardamom coffee or the smell of a richly scented nargileh (water pipe); the intoxicating swirl of Arabic pop descending out of an Amman doorway and the noisy silence of the desert.
Jordanians are a keen and proud people and the state truly welcomes company with open arms. Despite being squeezed between the hotspots of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel & the Palestinian Territories, Jordan is probably the safest and most stable country in the region. Regardless of your nationality, you’ll be greeted with nothing but courtesy and warmth in this gem of a country.
As of its place on top of a hill overlooking the city, the Citadel stands evidence to the history of Amman, with its ancient ruins and excavated relics, next to those from all the way through the country, housed in the Jordan Archaeological Museum. It is the site of the ancient capital Rabbath-Ammon and frequent excavations have exposed Stone Age remains as well as those from the Roman to the Islamic periods. The site contains several structures including the imposing Omayyad Palace, a small the Temple of Hercules, the Great Temple of Amman. Also on the site is the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which has an outstanding compilation of artifacts from Jordan dating back to the initial resolution in the region over 700,000 years ago. The Dead Sea Scrolls, Iron Age sarcophagi and a copy of the Mesha Stele are its most major exhibits.
Beneath the Citadel is the magnificent Roman amphitheater, an impressive relic from ancient Philadelphia that is cut into the hill and can seat up to 6,000 people. The theater is still used occasionally for events today. Two cultural museums form part of the complex: the Jordan Folklore Museum, which has exhibits on traditional life, and the Museum of Popular Traditions with traditional costumes and mosaics from 4th to 6th century Jordan churches.
City Of Jerash
Located about 31 miles (50km) north of Amman is one of the top attractions in Jordan, the antique city of Jerash, which is cautious to be one of the best potted Roman sites in the world. Its outstanding state of conservation is due to the fact that it was buried in sand for centuries and the superb baths, theaters, temples, arches, columns and stone chariot-rutted streets have long attracted scholars and tourists from across the world to admire the most complete city in the Roman Decapolis. Excavations dating to the Neolithic Age have indicated that Jerash was continuously occupied for more than 6,500 years. Today guests can wonder as the ancient auditorium comes to life at the annual Jerash festival of Culture and Arts in July, where artists from around the globe sing, dance, act and play music on stage in a festivity of Jordanian and worldwide culture.
Desert Castle Loop
Stretching to the east of Amman towards Saudi Arabia and Iraq is the vast desert simple where a come together of significant ruins such as castles, forts, baths and palaces have been potted and are jointly known as desert castles. Their purpose is largely unknown, but most are thought to have been built as leisure retreats by the Umayyad caliphs during the early Islamic Period (7th to 8th centuries AD). Qasr Mushatta is the major and most complicated of the castles, a fine example of Umayyad architecture although it was never completed. The best preserved and most enchanting is the luxurious bathhouse of Qusayr ‘Amra, with its vaulted ceiling and bright center frescoes and mosaics, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additional desert castles include the black rock fortress at Azraq, which was the desert headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia during the Great Arab Revolt in 1917, the mysterious Qasr al-Kharrana, Qasr al-Hallabat’s crumbling leftovers and the youthful complex at Qastal.
The landscape of Wadi Rum is highly praised to be one of the most attractively good-looking wasteland landscapes in the world and is a main tourist purpose in Jordan. Very tall mountains of battered sandstone rise perpendicularly from the pink desert sands where the vast emptiness and silence is out of this world. There are many ways to travel around the vast wilderness center where the likes of Lawrence of Arabia once rode; serious mountaineers and climbers relish the challenge of its high peaks, chiefly the uppermost in the area, Jabal Rum, and the extraordinary Rock Bridge, while hikers can enjoy the grandeur of the center by walking out into the wilderness and camping alone under the stars. Camel trips and 4×4 vehicle tours can also be arranged from the Government Rest House. Wadi Rum is dwelling to several nomadic Bedouin families who are well-known for their hospitality, and guests are often invited to share mint tea with them inside their goat-hair tents or at the side of the fire under the glittery sky.