Visiting Jordan was on my mind for almost two years now. I had had many chances of visiting Petra or Amman on a two-day trip from Tel Aviv. But as usual I wanted more.
I wanted to explore the whole country. From the North to the South. I wanted to see the desert in bloom. I wanted to dive into nearly unspoiled coral reefs of the Red Sea. I wanted to have a tea with the Bedouins and to eat green almonds. Going at the end of March and the beginning of April was a spot on.
I flew into Amman on Jordanian Airlines. Despite having all my Israeli stamps, I had no trouble getting a visa and entering the country. The Peace Treaty is obviously working well. At least for tourists.
The capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A city with thousands of years of history interwoven into a modern facade. Amman is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world. Originally spread over seven hills (like every great city should be), it now covers nineteen.
Known as the White City of the country. All of the hills are covered with light-coloured, box-like houses with characteristic flat roofs.
The remains of an ancient civilisation. Arabian sweet shops. Faded minarets and buzzing markets amazingly contrast with fashionable boutiques. Luxury hotels. High-end restaurants and new contemporary buildings.
Amman. Known as Philadelphia during the Roman times. Was a part of Decapolis. A group of ten cities. Not counting Damascus, are all found on modern Jordan’s territory. This is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the region. With a number of ancient sites such as the impressive Roman Amphitheatre. Odeum. Hercules’ Temple and a Roman Citadel which overlooks the city from atop of Jabal al-Qala’a.
The site is surrounded by the ancient walls. One can admire Hercules’ Temple, un almost unspoiled Citadel and great views over the city. Although it is a tourist attraction, you can come across kids playing football after school and women relaxing in the sun.
I have to to admit that I felt like the biggest attraction there. Everyone wanted to have a picture with me. I felt like a celebrity, constantly being asked for a photo.
The Roman Amphitheatre and Odeum are placed in the heart of the city. The theatre is truly breathtaking. Seats six thousand people. Thanks to the steepness of the cavea the acoustics are outstanding. The theatre is extremely well preserved and holds a superb Archaeological Museum.
The city also holds the sights of the heyday of Islamic civilisation. The most important of them is an Ottoman style King Hussein Mosque. It stands proudly in the Downtown’s centre overlooking souks, bazaars, and little shops with handcrafted goods. The area is a blend of new and olD. It is bustling all day long but gets truly frenetic during prayers time.
When you walk around you are bombarded with exotic smells. Noises of constant haggling. People welcoming you on every corner. Merchants inviting you to step into their shops, and Arabs playing backgammon next to the coffee stands. What is there not to love about it?
Another mosque worth seeing is King Abdullah I Mosque with a magnificent blue mosaic dome. A perfect example of modern Islamic style.
Do not miss a stroll over Jabal Amman with its unexpected charm. Especially the leafy Mango and Rainbow Streets with their numerous cafes. Boutiques and tiny restaurants. The area is being rejuvenated like the all of old Amman by different cultural and economic projects.
Amman. Except for Tel Aviv, is the safest capital city of the region. There are no signs of the Arab Spring here. The people are extremely proud that their country being peace buffer zone of the Middle East.
Despite being essentially a product of the 20th century, Amman still holds the unassuming air of the old-world allure. I already have the feeling that I will fall for this country. Amman’s magical spell took me straight away to 7 out of 10 on my ‘Great Travel Scale’. I sank into the atmosphere of this unique city instantly. Would love to come back here in the future. Knowing myself this will be sooner than later.