Northern Jordan is the area from Jerash to the Syrian border. The most fertile region of the country. Spring is the most beautiful season to explore it.
Land is covered in a carpet of wildflowers. Everything is green and juicy. It comes as a shock to my eyes after urban Amman and Eastern Desert. The forest. Crops. Fruit and olive trees seem to take over every square meter of the region.
I discover here an unknown face of this desert country painted with the vivid colours of fresh fruits stands.
This region is not easily accessible by public transportation. Renting a car or a private driver is the best solution. My driver is extremely knowledgeable and this gives me the freedom of choice. And the calmness of not rushing while on a guided tour with other tourists.
I start from Umm Qais. The site of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Gadara. One of the ‘Decapolis’ syndicates. Gadara was renowned as a cultural centre. Home to many classical poets and philosophers. Including Theodorous, founder of the rhetorical school in Rome.
Excavation works have uncovered the impressive remains of colonnaded streets. A mausoleum. A theatre and a Byzantine church perched on the lush hill overlooking Golan Heights.
Lake Tiberius (the Sea of Galilee) and the Jordan Valley with the Yarmouk River. This a truly memorable and breathtaking panoramic view of the three border countries. The whole area is covered with bright yellow flowers. I think Calendulas, there are quiet common to this region.
The city is mentioned in the New Testament as the site where Jesus performed the Gadara Pigs Miracle. Although there is another site on the Israeli side that claims this miracle as well.
The next highlight of Northern Jordan is Ajlun Castle. Known as Qal’at er-Rabad. In the 12th century the castle was a base of the Arab forces of Saladin fighting against the Crusaders.
Another one of its major objectives was to control the iron mines. Known as the Red Rose Cave. And to protect the trade and commercial routes between Jordan and Syria.
Built on the Mount Auf next to the Ajlun city. Is an interesting maze of passages and levels. A semi – square construction with four towers. Slightly rebuilt after the battle of Hattin. The castle is one of the best preserved and most complete examples of medieval Arab-Islamic military architecture.
Under the Mamelukes. Ajlun was one of the a chain of castles which. Using heliographs, fire beacons and pigeon post. Could transmit messages from Damascus to Cairo within twelve hours.
It was never taken over by the Crusaders. Badly destroyed during earthquakes in the 18th and 20th centuries. It has been beautifully restored.
I had a very memorable time there. As soon as I have entered I was joined by a member of staff who took me around. Explained every little detail and told me all the historical legends.
After that I was invited to the office. A desk in the corner of one of the rooms. Got to meet the rest of the staff. They were all so genuinely interested in exchanging stories and learning about me. A traveller from Poland. Girls cooked a cardamon coffee and insisted I stay overnight in Ajlun. They showed me films of the castle all covered in snow. From a few weeks before and were really shocked when I said I was traveling alone.
The hospitality of the Jordanians made my trip a unique and a very authentic experience. That is what I love most about travel. So I’m in Seventh Heaven here.
The most spectacular sight of the region is Jerash. I wouldn’t recommend skipping any of the above. If you are short on time there is no question that Jerash is a must-see.
Two thousand years old ruins. Hundreds of columns and numerous temples are worth a detour. Jerash is known as the Decapolis city of Garasa. Discovered only in the 1920s. It is in excellent shape. It was a favourite city of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Jerash!
The beautiful complex of theatres. Temples. Squares and streets must have looked breathtaking in its heyday times. When the buildings still had marble facades. Churches had Tuscan-style terracotta-tiled roofs. The city was a great example of the coexistence of Greco-Roman world and the traditions of the Arab Orient.
Do not miss the green hills of the Northern Jordan, especially Jerash.