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Travel & Holiday Tips in Jordan


The capital since 1921, Amman contains about one-third of the population. It was formerly the Ammonite capital of Rabbath-Ammon and later the Graeco-Roman city of Philadelphia. Often referred to as the 'white city', Amman was originally, like Rome, built on seven hills which still form its natural focal points. With extensive modern building projects, Amman is now very well equipped with excellent hotels and tourist facilities, especially in the jabal (hill) areas. The central market (souk) is lively and interesting and provides a taste of a more traditional city. Remains from Roman, Greek and Ottoman Turk occupations are dotted around the city, the main attraction being the Roman amphitheatre from the second century AD in the centre of the city. There is also the Jebel el Qalat (citadel) which houses the Archaeological Museum; the National Gallery of Fine Arts and the Popular Museum of Costume and Jewellery.

Owing to Jordan's small size, any destination within the country may be reached by road from the capital, Amman, in one day.

The North


Once the Biblical 'Gilead', Salt is now a small town set in the fertile landscape west of Amman, retaining much of its old character as a former leading city of Transjordan. Filled with the character, sights, sounds and aromas of an old Arab town with its narrow market (souk), its innumerable flights of steps, and its donkeys and coffee houses, it has a tolerant, friendly, oriental atmosphere. 24km (15 miles) from Amman is Iraq al-Amir, the only Hellenistic palace still to be seen in the Middle East.


Less than one hour's drive north of Amman through the picturesque hills of ancient Gilead is Jerash. A magnificent Graeco-Roman city on an ancient site, beautifully preserved by the desert sands, Jerash is justly famous for the Triumphal Arch, the Hippodrome, the great elliptical forum, the theatres, baths and gateways, the Roman bridge and the wide street of columns that lead to the Temple of Artemis.

Umm Qais

In the far north of the country, Umm Qais, the Biblical 'Gadara', dominates the area around Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee). Once a city favoured by the Romans for its hot springs and theatres, it had declined to a small village by the time of the Islamic conquests. Its ruins, however, are still impressive: the Acropolis built in 218 BC, the forum, the colonnaded street with still-visible chariot tracks and the Nymphaeum and remains of a large basilica.

Other Places

Irbid, to the southeast of Umm Qais, is 77km (49 miles) from Amman and is a city of Roman tombs and statues, and narrow streets with close-packed shops and arched entrances.

Alternatively, return along the northwest border from Umm Qais to Jerash through the lush scenery of the Jordan River Valley, stopping at the town of Al Hammeh, in sight of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a town known for its hot springs and mineral waters. Visitors can also stop at Pella, once a city of the Roman Decapolis, now being excavated, and the hilltop castle of Qalaat al-Rabadh built by the Arabs in defense against the crusaders. The scenery in this surprisingly fertile part of Jordan is often very beautiful, especially in the spring when the Jordan Valley and surrounding area is covered in flowers.

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