I was planning this trip for too long now. I finally decided to go and it was one of my best decisions so far. I spent four days there and I am in love with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan! There, I said it.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was founded by King Abdullah I, and currently ruled by King Abdullah II son of the late King Hussein. Over the years, Jordan has grown into a stable, peaceful and modern country. While Jordan is mostly known for the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, carved from rock over 2000 years ago and the Dead Sea, it also offers much more for every traveller, from historical sights, remote desert canyons and amazing landscapes… And don’t even get me started about the food… Your only role is to explore this magnificent country and the hidden gems around. Whether you are thrill seeker like me, a historian, or you just want to relax, Jordan is the place for you.
I started my journey in the capital, Amman. After landing at the newly opened Queen Alia International Airport, I am headed towards my hotel in central Amman.
Amman is a city of contrasts situated in a hilly area and it’s not more than a four hour drive from anywhere in the country. As a modern and prosperous city, almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in Amman and its area. There is evidence of the city’s historic past everywhere you turn, but you can also see modern buildings rubbing shoulders with traditional coffee shops and old souqs.
The downtown area is much older and more traditional, with smaller businesses selling everything, from gold and silver to everyday household items.
I was interested in the historic parts of the city so I am headed to see the famous Amman Citadel and the Temple of Hercules. On my way I passed to see King Abdullah Mosque, nicely decorated with a blue mosaic dome.
The Citadel towers above the city and it’s one of the oldest Roman remains in Amman. The most impressive structure here is the Al-Qasr (The Palace) and the Temple of Hercules. A great collection of tombs, columns, stairs, arches and walls can be also found here, together with the Jordan Archaeological Museum. You can get priceless views of the city from here! Head down the hill to see the Roman Theatre built into the hillside.
After a short taxi ride I arrived before the country’s national Mosque – King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque. It’s the largest mosque in the country, build to reflect the Umayyad architecture prevalent in many historic sites around Jordan.
I am pretty tired already, but want to see as much as possible. Upon recommendation from my driver, we are headed to Jerash, a Rome away from Rome.
The city is around 45 minutes away from Amman, but well worth the visit. The site is acknowledged to be as one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, provincial Roman urbanism that is found through the Middle East, paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls with towers and gates. The size and beauty of this ancient city is simply stunning.
It’s time to go back to the hotel and get some rest. I am super excited for the day that awaits me.
It’s 4:30 in the morning. The sun is not out yet, but for adventurer like me that is not a huge problem. My driver is patiently waiting me downstairs since I am late, as always…
We are headed over to Wadi Rum and after around 4 hours’ drive, we are here. We arrived in a Bedouin village on the edge of the desert. Our Bedouin driver greeted us with smile and we were invited for a Bedouin tea in his house. His three wives and seventeen children came to greet us. The Bedouin people that inhabit the area still maintain their semi-nomadic lifestyle, but they are hospitable and offer a friendly welcome to visitors.
We hopped in our 4×4 ride and drove a couple of miles away from the village. And there it is, timeless place, virtually untouched by humanity and its destructive forces. Here, it is the weather and winds that have carved the imposing, towering skyscrapers.
A maze of rocky mountains rising up from the desert floor up to hights of 1,750 meters creating natural challenge for serious mountaineers. Hikers can enjoy the tranquillity of the boundless empty space and explore the canyons, discover 4000 year old rock drawings from the Nabataeans and many other spectacular treasures this vast wilderness holds in store. Small bridge, big bridge, Titanic and much more…
Personally I was amazed with two men shaped Nabataean rock drawings, since the eyes of one of the painting are following you as you are going left and right. Pretty impressive considering they were carved 4000 years ago. One of them is heavily damaged from two bullet holes from a men believing there is treasure hidden behind. Everywhere around is marked the Nabataean presence. Go and see the ancient water well and see the way the water got collected in it from the rain. There is also a map carved in huge rock, presenting the villages and roads that lead to the surrounding countries. Larger circles are big villages with camels that can help you with your journey, and the smaller ones are the villages that can provide you with food and water.
To be continued…