Jordan houses numerous famous tourist destinations namely Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. But unfortunately, many people tend to skip it’s capital city, Amman.
Apt for spending just one day in and a perfect destination for budget travellers, Amman’s ancient history tales and a touch of modern culture, makes the city a must-see!
The Amman Citadel
Perched on the highest hill, Jabal al-Qal’a, overlooking the brown-beige city of Amman, the Citadel is a historical hotspot which was once occupied by many great civilizations. Ruins from the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods are still present here.
Upon entering this open-air museum, the first thing one sees are three milestones, each describing the three eras the Citadel has seen, while it went by three different names – Rabbath Ammon, Philadelphia and finally, Amman.
The Amman Citadel is an ideal place to get acquainted with the history of Jordan. But if you aren’t a history fanatic like me, this site is great for photography and it’s panoramic views.
The Temple of Hercules
One of the most striking monuments within the Citadel is the Temple of Hercules. Built by the Romans, the temple consisted of six columns that rose to a height of 33 feet, visible from the entrance and even the city below. Today, only two of these columns stand tall while the other four lie in ruins, as the result of an earthquake. On the contrary, many believe that this temple was never completed in the first place since the remains of the other four pillars are missing.
Another fascinating ruin found here is a fist, which is believed to be the only remaining piece from a 42 feet statue of the Roman hero-god, Hercules.
The Umayyad Palace
Located in the northern section of the Citadel, this palatial complex was built during the Umayyad period over the remains of an original Roman construction. It is composed of three main areas : An open space with a large water cistern, a well preserved audience hall and nine independent buildings. Today, the complex lies majorly in ruins but the foundations are still visible.
The only undamaged building on this site is the audience hall which has a notable modern wooden roof and is used for cultural events today.
The Byzantine Church
This 6th century church has a bascilical plan which consists of a nave flanked by two rows of Corinthian columns.
Beyond a doubt, my personal favourite and the most gorgeous structure of Amman was the Roman Amphitheatre. This 2nd century amphitheater can seat upto 6,000 people. A noteworthy aspect of this edifice is it’s well-planned architecture. The theatre rests against a hill, thus the seating area remains in the shadow, protecting the audience from the harsh rays of sun, while the stage is always brightly lit with sunshine.
The acoustics of this theatre are simply incredible. There is a little spot between the stage and the seats from where your voice projects to the entire stage. So ideal for a music concert or play!
Lastly, don’t forget to climb right up to the top for an impressive view of the entire theatre.
PS : The walk back down could be crazy because of the steeps steps!
Day trips from Amman:
While Amman is your base destination, you can take one day trips to various destinations from here.
- Madaba – Known as the City of Mosaics, Madaba houses the famous 6th century “Madaba Map”, a depiction of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, created with two million pieces of vividly coloured stones. Madaba is also famous for the Memorial Church of Moses on Mount Nebo. This is believed to be the spot where God showed Moses the Promised Land.
- Petra – Selected as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this Rose City is a known for it’s tall rose-red rocks, the Petra Treasury and Monastery. The experience is very different and hence, a must-visit destination!
- Wadi Rum – This desert reserve is notable for it’s red-pink sands, mountains and gorgeous sunsets. Wadi Rum is ideal for a peaceful getaway.
- The Dead Sea – The lowest point in the world (349.6 metres below sea level), the Dead Sea is famous for the hypersalinity of it’s water, allowing one to float on the surface of the sea. The dark mud along the shore is believed to have therapeutic effects and it is also used to treat medical conditions. Don’t be embarrassed to get yourselves muddy and dirty!