AMMAN : Gateway to the country !
Straight from the airport, we drove to Zaman Ya Zaman Boutique Hotel in Amman. We chose a room with a view of The Roman Amphitheatre from the balcony and of course with private bathroom 😊 ( Please be careful while booking your accommodation as some have shared bathrooms )
My first impression on Amman wasn’t that great but I was forced to change my opinion by the second day. Amman is a great base for taking a day trip north to the incredible ruins of Jerash ( 45 minutes north of Amman ) and Umm Qais ( which is around 2 hours north of Jerash ). The 12th Century Ajloun Castle, a hilltop castle, is an interesting stop between the two sites – Jerash and Umm Qais.
Things to DO in and around Amman: Amman is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and was once called “Philadelphia” after it was occupied by the Greek.
- Visit the ancient site Roman Theatre – Impressively huge reconstructed Amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 6000 , cut into depression on the hillside with the orchestra ( semi-circle in front of the stage ). The south-facing stage is flooded with sun throughout the day makingit a place which you visit anytime of the day depending on your itinerary.
View of the Roman Theatre from the Citadel !
- Visit the Citadel which rests on the highest hill to enjoy the panoramic view of the beautiful city. It came under occupation by the Romans, Byzantines and Umayyads. Archaeologists continue to excavate the site.
- Take a stroll down the Rainbow street – Sit back and relax at a shisha lounge or try some delicious street food here. This is a street where most of the youngsters in Amman hangout. If you happen to be in Amman on a Friday, you can visit the Souk Jara near Rainbow Street. It is a flea market mainly selling handicrafts, traditional food, fragrant spices, scents, nuts and produce.
- Feast on falafel and hummus in the family-run Hashem restaurant or if you have a sweet tooth- then try the desserts in any local shop or the famous Habibah Knafeh on Al-Hazzar St which is very famous as well for their khunafa ( traditional dessert ). Don’t forget to try the shawarma too. As we visited Jordan during Ramzan, we feasted on food 😊
- After every meal, you are served hot tea which is to die for. I am a big Tea person and Jordan is heaven for tea lovers.
- You can visit the King Abdullah Mosque during the prayers to get the religious feel of the city.
- If you are a fan of automobiles, do visit the Royal Automobile Museum which showcases the private collection of cars and motorcycles of the late King Hussein from the early 1920’s through present day.
- Drive around the city especially the downtown
- Day Trip to Jerash & Ajiloun Castle and if you have time do visit Umm Qais ( all of these need the entire day ). It is advisable to visit Umm Qais early morning and then visit Ajiloun Castle ( you can skip this if you are out of time ) and then Jerash. If you have just time for one place , then Jerash it is !
JERASH – Jerash is one of the well preserved sites of Roman architecture outside Italy. Jerash – Surely couldn’t believe that this was a city by itself. Built by the Alexander, the great – this Roman colony shrank to bits due to Persian invasion and an earthquake. Excavation to this city still continues. After buying the entrance tickets, the first thing you would see is the Hadrian’s Arch. Then you pass a hippodrome ( where there will be various kinds of shows in peak season ) and once you walk a little further, your tickets would be checked again and then you walk into a colonnaded street. The oval shaped plaza is surrounded by 56 columns, each made from four blocks of stone and was apparently the centre of the social and political life. As you walk through this, you will find more and more columns lines, crumbling pillars, ruins of temples of Zeus and Artemis, amphitheatres. Jerash is open every day from 8am – 4pm in Winter and until 5 pm in Summer.
- The Ajlun castle is a short drive from Jerash. Just as you approach the castle you can see a view of the Ajlun castle on the hill top. ( you can skip this is you are running short of time )
- Um Qais is further towards the border of Syria ( away from Amman , north of Jordan ) and is also a Roman city that dates back to centuries and also has remains of several temples, colonnade etc. The only difference being that some of the buildings are built from the local black basalt stones which gives Um Qais a very unique look.