The modern city of Amman is the capital of the Kingdom of Jordan and there is something for everyone to enjoy from art, ancient ruins to history and food. The city was once the home to ancient civilisations such as the Romans and Byzantines, however today it is a modern city of culture in the Middle East.
At the top of Jabal al-Qala’a hill is the historic site of the Citadel, which includes the pillars of the Roman Temple of Hercules and the 8th Century Umayyad Palace complex with its ornate grand dome. The importance of the Citadel is that it is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places.
Built on a different hillside in downtown Amman is the 2nd Century stone Roman Amphitheatre. With a 6,000 seat capacity, it is now used to hold popular cultural events and concerts. Close by are the Nymphaeum and the Jordan Folklore Museum.
Amman is also home to some incredible Middle Eastern art. The must see galleries are in the areas of Jabal Al Weidbdeh, an intellectual hub for artists and writers and Jabal Amman, which is quickly becoming the centre of arts and culture in the capital, with its many galleries and artist’s studios including the Nabad and Jacaranda. There is also the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and Darat Al Funun, Paris Square and The Khalid Shoman Foundation.
Round the corner is the famous cobblestoned Rainbow Street in Amman’s historic district. This famous street is the place to be seen in the city, where you will find many coffee shops and restaurants. Some of the food to try includes the Al Quds fries a crispy falafel on a sesame seed bun. There are also some fine Jordanian retailers and artisans selling their unique products, which can be found at the Souk Jara, a central flea market that’s pops up every Friday night.
In the heart of downtown Amman you will find the Grand Husseini Mosque, it is where the locals gather to pray throughout the day. There is also a fruit and vegetable market, which sits just behind the mosque, where you will find vendors singing to entice shoppers to their stalls.
Traditional Jordanian food will be one of your highlights while in the city. There are many authentic restaurants that are located in the downtown area of Al Quds and Shahrazad where you can sample dishes such as Mansaf and Maqloube at a reasonable price.
The ruined city of Jerash lies just north of the capital Amman. It is a major tourist site and it is said to have been inhabited since the Bronze Age. This interesting site has imposing Ceremonial Gates, Temples, Theatres and Colonnaded Avenues. The 2nd Century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian Columns and the Temple of Artemis and the huge Forum’s oval Colonnade are just some of the must see sites while here. In the Jerash Archaeological Museum you can see displays of artefacts excavated from the site.
North east of the Forum lies the Cardo Maximus, the city’s main thoroughfare or the Colonnaded Street. The street stretches some 800 metres towards the North Gate and is still paved with its original stones, rutted by the wheels of chariots that once jostled along its length. The Colonnaded Street is punctuated by the Nymphaeum, the main fountain of the city, before giving rise to a superb Propylaeum (monumental gateway) and a staircase. The Temple of Artemis, towers over Jerash at the top of the stairs and was dedicated to the patron goddess of the city. The elegant remains of the Temple of Zeus, built around 162, can be reached from the Forum. It is a worthwhile climb, even if only for the view!