The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is just a 3-hour flight from Dubai. It is a journey of about 200,000 years through human history. It is more than just a country – Jordan is one of the world’s great tales. Our Stone Age ancestors migrated north from Africa and found a home in the cool valleys and caves of this sunny land. The smoke from the Bedouin camps has been rising against the Arabian night sky for more than nine millennia. Prophets have walked in these mountains and deserts, and their revelations have shaped three of the world’s greatest faiths. Greek, Roman, Arab, and crusader armies have thundered over these plains of sand and left traces in the form of thousands of archeological sites and deep in Jordan’s cultural DNA.
Today, Jordan is the quiet heart of a troubled region. Jordan’s capital Amman was known by the ancient Greeks as Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, and this tolerant attitude is still alive today. Overlooking the center of Amman, the citadel is located on the highest hill and forms the old core of the city. High above the citadel are the two remaining pillars of the Temple of Hercules, a Roman temple, which in its time surpassed many in Ancient Rome.
Jordan Vacation Travel Guide
Under the pillars, you can follow the shadows over the many historical layers of the citadel from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine period. At the foundation of the citadel, you can enjoy the view from the Roman theater with 6,000 seats and watch Amman’s daily dramas unfold below. Dive deeper into Jordan’s culture and history at their capital city’s museums and view the amazing galleries. Although the majority of the history of the Jordan kingdom is usually carved in stone, you can experience and enjoy the modern history of Jordan inside the Royal Car Museum in shiny chrome. Jordan is known for its hospitality, and you get a warm welcome everywhere in Amman. Among other things, through the open doors to the Duke of Mukhyber’s Residence, where the scent of historical books and faded furniture takes you back to the 1940s.
The evening breeze, which entices the inhabitants of Amman out on the cool streets and markets, just as it has been for hundreds of years. After a day or two in Amman, you can follow the wind 50 km north to the ancient Greco-Roman city of Jerash. Walk under the city’s huge gate, and imagine the red and golden procession, which heralded the arrival of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century.
Go out to the racetrack, where the noise from 15,000 spectators and the roar of the tanks could be heard several miles away. Relax in the shade of the South Gate, and take the short walk up to the Temple of Zeus, from where you can look down on the imperial city. Settle down at the Southern Theater, where even the top rows could hear the soft tones of Jordan’s bagpipes. Cross the Oval Forum, where in the past the city gathered for monthly festivals, boring court decisions, and the bloody battles of the gladiators. Follow Cardo Maximus north, and you will soon understand that only a few things are more straight than a Roman road.
The stalls that used to stand along this long colonnade has long since disappeared, but the daily trading spirit is still found among the ruins of the central market. When the sun bakes, can you think of the Romans who could stop under the cool haze from Jerash’s fountains before returning to their families? Follow the steps to the Temple of Artemis, where priestesses danced as female bears in honor of the goddess of hunting and fertility.
Zeus’ daughter Artemis was the protector of Jerash until the 4th century when the Roman gods were overthrown of the teachings of a certain Jewish carpenter. Only about 30 minutes drive from northwest of Jerash, then you can experience another fabulous religious struggle at Ajloun Castle. This castle from the 12th century is among a number of Arab castles built by Sultan Saladin to stop the Crusaders who rode through the northern valley of the Jordan who determined to occupy Jerusalem.
The Crusaders have long since been defeated and has left the hills to the shepherds and their flocks, which graze in the middle of the ruins of ancient cities like Pella. Just about an hour’s drive from the east of Amman, you will even see more silence on the endless plains in the Eastern Desert. Follow the route to Qasr Al-Kharanah Desert Castle, where the Bedouins appeared from the glittering horizon to take revenge within the cool surroundings of the castle courtyard and 60 rooms.
A little further away is Qusayr Amra. The castle walls have long since disappeared, but the incredible bathhouse is still here. Seek shade from the dazzling desert sun to see frescoes from ancient Arabia, which appears in the soft light. The Arab uprising in 1916-18 made TE Lawrence the castle its winter headquarters. See his bedroom, where the young British officer planned farms, which has since been immortalized in books and movies.
After exploring the Eastern Desert, you can travel southwest to Madaba, an ancient market town, famous for its Byzantine mosaics. The most famous is the Madaba mosaic, one of the first depictions of the Holy Land and a sacred destination for pilgrims through the ages. Today, the workshops in Madaba ensure that the mosaic tradition will continue for many generations to come. Travel further south to explore the Crusader castles on Kongevejen, an ancient trade route that brought the Arabs to Mecca and the Israelites to the Promised Land.
Jordan Vacation Travel Guide
You can see for yourself the promised land from Mount Nebo, just nine kilometers west of Madaba. Stand in the same place where Moses first saw beyond the Dead Sea to the land flowing with milk and honey, Israel. After admiring the mosaics in Moses Memorial Church, you can follow the hairpin down to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Let yourself float on the saltwater, and anoint yourself in the same healing mud that once lured Herod the Great, the Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra to the shores of the lake. Rise out of the water with renewed energy, and relax at your resort, while looking at the light from Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the West Bank. Follow the Dead Sea Road south to Wadi Mujib, Jordan’s Grand Canyon. Here you can hike in the lush valley and bathe in the cool waters of this harsh but merciful landscape.
At the southern end of the Dead Sea is the cave where Lot and his daughters lived after fire and brimstone destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from the earth’s surface. A city that was hidden from the outside world for centuries, before it was rediscovered in 1812, is the Nabataean city of Petra. You can enter Petra via Siq, a narrow gap through time and place, where the modern world is laid farther and farther behind you. Step out of the shadows of the gorge into the sunlight of Wadi Musa, and look up at Al-Khazneh. Thanks to movies like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade know the whole world of this impressive temple, but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. Carved in the pink sandstone cliffs Al-Khazneh is the largest of Petra’s 500 tombs. But your adventure has only just begun.
From here, the gorge opens up to Facadegaden, the Great Nabataean Theater, and the Royal Tombs. Petra’s treasures deserve at least half a day. But to really feel the magic of this 250 square meter maze of temples, tombs, and caves, you should stay longer. Everyone staying in the rose city of Petra rewarded with new moods and colors every single hour. From Petra, you can follow the desert road to the south, 70 kilometers to Wadi Rum, the moon valley. Here you can soothe your soul in the smoke from the campfire of the desert camp. But Jordan also shows us that sometimes we can reach out and touch the infinite and be one with something far greater than ourselves.
Jordan’s story is the story of us all..
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