Jordan is a country that surprises many visitors who come to the Middle East, and while it may be surrounded by countries that experience internal strife or religious tensions, Jordan is a much more placid and interesting place to visit. While many areas of the country fit with the stereotypical ideas of the hot and barren terrain of the Middle East, Jordan also has many green and lush areas that are truly beautiful to explore. However, it is the historical sights of the area, as featured in this video looking at Amman, Jerash and the Desert Castles, that really draw visitors to the area, and make it a spectacular tourist destination.
This ancient city in the south of the country dates from around 2,600 years ago when the area was a part of the Nabatean Kingdom, and features a series of large and ornate buildings carved from the rock of the valley. The buildings of this area were abandoned during the twelfth century, and were almost entirely forgotten until the area was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in the 1830s. Since then, the site has become a World Heritage Site, and was one of the iconic sites that featured in the Indiana Jones series of films, while also growing to be the most important tourist destination in the country.
The Ancient Greco-Roman City Of Jerash
Jordan has been a part of many different empires over the years, and the ancient ruins on the fringes of the modern city of Jerash date from the period when the Greek and Roman empires dominated this area of the world. The ruins here have been wonderfully protected from the development of the modern city, and the South Gate and Hadrian's Arch are some of the most interesting areas of the city to see. There is also a wonderful amphitheater and a show giving visitors a taste of the Roman experience with chariots and soldiers in the Hippodrome, which is a historic stadium on the site.
The Old Center Of Amman
While Amman may be a modern and cosmopolitan capital in some parts, the Old Center of the city offers a very different view, with historic buildings and sites dating from different empires and periods in the area. Historic sites are often side by side with modern parts of the city, and while the Roman Theater may have held up to six thousand people in its pomp, it now has good views over surrounding apartment buildings as well as the stage. The Amman Citadel is another fascinating place to explore, with several major buildings from a variety of different periods, as the citadel has been used by several civilizations for several thousand years.
The Mosaics Of Madaba
Dating from the Crusader period, the most famous mosaic in Madaba is the map of ancient Jerusalem which was created in the sixth century, and is an amazing sight considering the age of the piece and how well preserved it is. Along with several other mosaics in the city, there are also Iron Age fortifications that can be seen and a series of old burial mounds known as dolmen, while the top of Mount Nebo is an amazing spot from which to enjoy a fantastic panorama of the whole city.
The Desert Castles
To the east of Amman are a series of castles that date from the seventh and eighth centuries, when the area was under the control of the Umayyad dynasty, and Damascus was the regional capital. While these castles vary in terms of how well preserved they are and how much work has been carried out to restore the sites, many are well worth exploring, with the examples of early Islamic art found here being particularly interesting.