There are many reasons why Jordan is worth exploring … It is a country which will surprise you in all respects, a country which will whet your appetite for adventure – that is, if you have not already been bitten by this “bug” – in the mysteries of which you will wish to dive and a destination you will fall in love with!
Here are some “excuses” to urge you to choose Jordan as your next holiday destination!
1. The capital of Jordan, Amman – Philadelphia or Rabbat Ammon, one of the Ten Cities (Decapolis) once located on the eastern border of the Roman Empire, is now a cosmopolitan city of contrasts, a unique combination of the new and the old, with ultramodern buildings, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and shops, which displays its ancient roots on every street corner. Mentioned both in the Old and the New Testament, the city took on the name of the son of Lot and has been the capital of the Ammonite tribes ever since the Antiquity.
The Citadel – Ummayad Palace – is the point where your journey through the city history may begin, as the ruins of ancient Rabbath – Ammon offer an incredible panorama over the entire area, in which almost half of the population of the country is concentrated. The people here are multicultural, very well educated and very hospitable. The Grand Hyatt Amman, a stylish hotel in the sweet Arabian style, of an understated luxury and conveniently located in the heart of a select district, was the right choice for the start of a dream trip!
2. Located in the North of the country, Gadara is a spectacular destination, a combination of Roman-Greek ruins and Ottoman settlements. Today named Umm Qays, the citadel rises proudly on the very spots where Jesus is said to have performed the healing of the “demonized” Gadareans. Designated also as the New Athens, ancient Gadara was renowned as a cultural center, but also for its thermal springs, which the Romans prized beyond words.
3. Hellenized into … Pella – to honor the birthplace of Alexander Macedon – the Tabaqat Fahl of today has been continuously inhabited since Neolithic times and is mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions even since the 2nd millennium BCE. A member of the Decapolis, Pella was used as a refuge by the Christians escaping the Stamite fury during the Judeo-Roman wars in the Holy Citadel of Jerusalem. The city was destroyed by an earthquake, but its inhabitants continued to live on these lands.
4. The Kerith (Cherith) Gorge is the place where the Prophet Elijah found sanctuary and was miraculously fed by ravens for the entire duration of the three-year drought, which he had prophesized to King Ahab – as mentioned in the Book of Kings. The Altar of Saint Elijah (Ilie) is located East of the Jordan River – where also lay the remains of one of the biggest Byzantine churches in Jordan.
5. Umm Al-Jimal, a key location on the caravan route, was built out of black volcanic rock and is studded with churches, among which that of Eulianos – built in 345 CE.
Both Nabatean inscriptions and graves were discovered in the area.
6. Ajlun – the wonders of nature and the genius of medieval Arabian military architecture gave Jordan two of the most important treasures of the Middle East: the Anjun Castle and the Pine Forest, both of which contributed to the defeat of the Crusaders 8 centuries ago. The castle dominating the North of the Jordan River was built by one of Saladin’s generals and is an example of the valuable Islamic architecture.
7. Close to Ajlun, on the Tall Mar Elias, are both the birth place and the house of Prophet Elijah.
8. Gerasa/Jerash boasts a continuous history of at least 6500 years, being famous ever since Roman times for its immense temples. After the christening of the Romans, the city again became famous, this time for its humongous churches! One of the best preserved cities of the Antiquity lay hidden in sand for centuries, recent archaeological digs bringing to light innumerable vestiges frozen in time: streets, temples, theaters, baths and fountains, towers and walls, as well as the entry gates to the city.
In the North-East:
9. The castles of the Jordan Desert– Qasr Amra, Qasr al-‘Azraq, Qasr Burqu’, Qasr al-Hallabat and the other up to 12 „Qasr” were built by the caliphs from the time of the Umayyad Dynasty and are examples of early Islamic architecture. Witnesses to a glorious past, the mosaic art, frescoes, illustrations and stucco walls tell fascinating stories about the rich history of these places.
Named castles due to their truly impressive size, they actually served as trade hubs, caravan stations or as meeting places for those who wanted to establish commercial ties with the local Bedouins or with those traveling the Damascus – Medina route.
In the North-West:
10. The Jordan Rift Valley is certainly one of the most fascinating places in the world. A tectonic depression, beginning from the sources of the Jordan River and reaching the Red Sea, separating the Arabian Plate from the African Plate and joining the East Anatolian one, it offers a landscape as dramatic as it is spectacular. It is the lowest valley in the world, being, it seems, the land of the five Biblical “plains” cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Zoar, of which the first four are said to have perished in the fire of divine wrath.
If I have not convinced you thus far, in the third part I will tell you why you should reach these lands and enjoy all they have to offer!
Do not forget, beginning in the month of March, Prestige Tour offers extremely convenient packages for this destination!
Photo credits: WEB