A Glimpse of Amman, Jordan

Amman citadel

ruins of the Temple of Hercules, built around 160 AD

Beautiful Aqaba perched on the edge of the Red Sea.  Shimmering red and gold desert sand punctuated with interesting geological formations in Wadi Rum.  Petra and its rose-colored magnificence.  The beguiling and rejuvenating Dead Sea. Contemporary urban buzz rooted in ancient history in Amman.  Amazingly well-preserved ancient Roman ruins in Jerash. This is Jordan.

But Jordan is more than just beautiful places.  Its complex history is observable through fascinating ancient mosaics, castles, museums, churches, mosques and ruins.  Yet it’s the intangible way this rich historical legacy colors your experience and shapes your mood that makes a trip to Jordan so special. There’s also delicious food, most of which is transported farm to table daily from the valley, and stunning and surprisingly varied landscape such as desert, mountains, grasslands, olive groves and canyons.  There are many sites of tremendous religious significance for Christians, Muslims and Jews, and a fascinating and complex cosmopolitan vibe due to its geographical location (it shares a border with Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Israel and Saudi Arabia.)  The super friendly and hospitable people make discovering it even more enjoyable.

Jordan has been on my travel wish list for a while now.  A three-hour flight away, it’s a popular vacation spot from Dubai.  When I started researching for the trip, I felt really uninformed because I had no idea how much there is to do. There’s much more to this country than Petra and the Dead Sea (as if those weren’t enough!).  In the few days we had, we could only scratch the surface of discovering everything this amazing country has to offer.

We started with a day in Amman.  I’ve heard people speak dismissively of the capital. “Skip it” is the usual advice.  In a country with so much to do, I can understand in a way, but I really enjoyed our brief visit.  It’s gritty and lively, which I really like.  Fifty percent of all Jordanians live here, so I think it’s important to see if you want to get a sense of how people live here.

The citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman.  It features Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic structures.  A few pics from the area follow:

view of Amman from Citadel

view of Amman from Citadel

Abu Darwish mosque amman

View of Amman hills and Abu Darwish mosque from citadel

 

Temple of Hercules, built around 160 AD

Temple of Hercules, built around 160 AD

citadel Amman

a giant hand, possibly from a statue of Hercules

citadel Amman

Jordanian school girls on a field trip

citadel Amman

detail of the wall surrounding the citadel

I liked the way the delicate little wildflowers framed the view of the ruins and city.

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The shabby condition of the building that houses the Archaeological Museum deceives the high quality of the treasures it holds.  It features some interesting works of art, coins and other artifacts.

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The citadel is also home to an ancient Islamic palace from the Umayyad period.  The mosque in the area has a newly built wooden dome. (The Umayyad period refers to a Muslim dynasty that ruled the Islamic world from 660-750 AD and Moorish Spain from 750-1030)  The dynasty claimed descent from a distant relative of Muhammad named Umayya.

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Built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Theater held around 6,000 people. Restoration work reinforced the structure and it is still used for events.  The columns outside the theater were part of a Roman Forum which was one of the largest public squares at the time.

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After visiting the ancient ruins, we drove through the souk area and then on to the newer part of the city.  I would have loved to jump out of the car to wander around.  It wasn’t a particularly atmospheric area in terms of space, but I enjoyed the glimpse of normal daily life: vendors selling live chickens, women shopping for fruits and vegetables, people drinking freshly squeezed juice.  I took the following pictures from the car.

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Next time we’re off to Mt. Nebo (where it is said Moses saw the promised land) and to discover some of the locally made handicrafts.

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About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
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11 Responses to A Glimpse of Amman, Jordan

  1. Diana says:

    Hercules temple is my fav! Fab pics as always!

    • Lynda says:

      I liked it too – the hand reminded me of that big one of Constantine in Rome. I thought of you guys b/c actually the whole vibe of Amman reminded me of Rome. I kept thinking of that beginning scene in gladiator where he’s running his hands through the wheat fields…

  2. BusyMommyDXB says:

    Wow, I agree, fabulous pics! Did you take a guided tour or did you do it on your own? Jordan is on our list as well so I’m going to stay glued to your blog for tips!

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks so much! You should definitely go. We used Jordan Select Tours. The woman who helps you put your itinerary together is extremely helpful, knowledgeable, responsive and flexible and not pushy in the least. Unfortunately, our driver was a very nice man, but not very informative (at all) and didn’t do much to “show off” his country – he really just got us from point A to B. (was really disappointing!) I’ve read trip advisor reviews and heard from friends who have used the company that their drivers were amazing- showing them non-touristy things and giving a lot of insight into the country, so I would definitely recommend them. Maybe request someone who is mentioned in the trip advisor reviews.

    • Lynda says:

      By the way – it wasn’t so much a tour, just a driver and the company helps you book your hotels and gives you an idea of how much time to spend places that fits your time frame. You can have as much alone time as you want.

  3. Sally says:

    I agree with you about Amman – there is so much to discover in Jordan but I’m glad we visited the capital. It reminded me of a Middle Eastern Bath (the city) with that honey coloured stone amid 7 hills.

    • Lynda says:

      I’ve never been to Bath – would love to go. Amman reminded me of Rome. Not just because of the ruins… something about the landscape….

  4. Mitzie Mee says:

    Looks like a beautiful place to visit. I must admit that Petra was also the first thing that slipped into my mind:)

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