>> Amman, a bustling, energetic modern city, is also steeped in history and ancient civilizations. Known as Rabath-Ammon during the Iron Age, it later was named Philadelphia and became part of the Decapolis League during the Roman Age. Amman is dotted with numerous archaeological sites big, and small. The Citadel, which includes the Temple of Hercules, the Omayyad Palace and the Byzantine Church, towers above Amman and gives the visitor a panoramic view of the hills of Amman. The 6000 seat Roman Theater, is excellently preserved and continues to be the setting for many outdoor cultural events. Amman also has museums and great walking routes that take visitors through the old and the new. The charm of its architecture, its winding streets and encompassing views enchants visitors and leaves them wanting to see more.

>> Secluded in the most northern hills of Jordan is the charming and ancient city of Um Qais, a unique Greco Roman Decapolis site, historically known as Gadara. Surveying the magnificent view of the cultivated Jordan Valley, the emerald blue of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius today) and the impressive Golan Mountains of Syria you can understand why many ancient civilizations chose to settle in this strategic location. You will discover remains of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture and artifacts as you walk through the colonnaded streets, with the black basalt theater in the background and its carved black sarcophagi. Off the beaten path, Um Qais is a hidden jewel of Jordan’s many antiquities and a place where few tourists venture.

>> A favorite among many, Jerash, is the best preserved Roman city in the world. It proudly sprawls through a picturesque hillside boldly contrasting with the surrounding modern city. One of the famous Roman Decapolis cities, Jerash illustrates the visionary and enduring Greco-Roman architecture of impressive theaters, prominent temples, and the legendary paved and colonnaded streets. Jerash has evidence of being successively inhabited for thousands of years and is an example of how ancient civilizations built upon each others’ history and cultures in their efforts to conquer strategic and valuable territories. Discovering Jerash on your own or with a well-versed guide is a must for all Jordan visitors.

>> Built as a defense against the Crusaders, Ajloun Castle, known as Qalat al Rabad, is an exceptional example of 12th Century Islamic architecture. Situated high on top of a hill in northern Jordan it served as a base for Saladin’s successful offensive against the Crusaders, and a protector of communication routes between Jordan and Syria. The enormous stone walls of the castle and its panoramic view of the country’s valleys submerge you into a tranquil atmosphere. A relatively new attraction to Ajloun is the Ajloun Nature Reserve where hiking trails surrounded by Oak and Pistachio trees, will take the nature lover through scenic and unique woodlands.

>> Bethany Beyond the Jordan is the most recent and important discovery in biblical archaeology. This rustic, peaceful and well preserved site is recognized and authenticated as the site where Jesus was baptized. Easily accessible from Amman and the Dead Sea, you will see the remains of some of the earliest churches, and witness the history and evidence of Jesus’ baptism and the journeys of many pilgrims who came to be baptized at this holy place. While visiting this site you will truly feel that you have been transported back to biblical times.

>> Whether you are into nature, hiking, archeology or photography, visiting the Dana Reserve in the southern part of Jordan is an unforgettable experience. Dana’s uniqueness is the fact that it includes four bio geographical zones in its 308 square km area. The numerous hiking trails take visitors through various terrains from sand dunes and rocky plains, to wooded highlands. They will come across dramatic views and encounter remarkable flora and fauna. The Feynan Eco-lodge situated in the Dana Reserve is a haven for any travel-weary visitor. The award winning lodge offers something for everyone with its proximity to the ancient Feynan archaeological sites, and its serene setting. A night at the lodge will rejuvenate you and have you ready to explore some more.

>> The lowest point on earth! 422 meters below sea level! A captivating landscape with frosted shores, turquoise-blue waters, and marbled, rocky mountains, the Dead Sea is geographically, and historically intriguing. With 8.6 times more salt than any of the oceans, and its abundance of minerals, the Dead Sea offers memorable therapeutic and entertaining experiences. Floating, caking yourself in the mineral rich mud, and indulging in a spa treatment, is the ultimate relaxing break you deserve. The landscape surrounding the Dead Sea offers some energizing hikes with acclaimed views. Be sure to catch a sunset at the Dead Sea Panorama and have your camera ready!

>> For a change of pace, Aqaba is a must. Whether you enjoy water-sports (skiing, diving, snorkeling, sailing) or shopping, lounging, more antiquities, or eating, Aqaba has something for you. A growing beach town with a bustling souk and a range of hotels, Aqaba can offer you a relaxing time by its clean, clear waters surrounded by its encircling, rubescent mountains. Famous for its well preserved coral reefs and for its historical sites you can find plenty to see and do and set the pace that is right for you.

>> Jordan’s scenic landscape is punctuated by captivating desert castles. The formidable Crusader castles of Karak and Shobak contrast with the austere and picturesque Roman and Ummayed castles of Amra, Mushatta and Kharana. Qasr Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its exceptionally preserved frescos and mosaics. Qasr Kharrana has an air of mystery and achievement with its great walls and intimidating size, yet small secluded interior. Finally, the Azraq Fort, Lawrence of Arabia’s headquarters, with its black basalt walls and its immense door, captures the historical significance of the Great Arab Revolt.

>> Just south of Amman is Madaba, known as the “city of mosaics”. Quaint and vibrant Madaba is home to colorful and detailed mosaics dating back to the Byzantine and Ummayed times. The famous 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land located in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George is the oldest map discovered of the area. Made of more than 2 million pieces of colored stone, the map depicts sites from all over Jordan such as Karak, Bethany, Lot’s Cave, and Petra, and it connects the visitor with historical and theological evidence that is shared at these sites. The Church of the Virgin and the Apostles, and the Archaeological Museum also have exquisite examples of mosaics depicting nature in addition to religious themes. Of course any trip to Madaba would not be complete without a delicious Jordanian meal at the restaurant Harat Ijdoodna (literally translated as Our Grandfathers’ Neighborhood).

>> "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land… " (Deuteronomy 34:1) Mount Nebo, more than 800 meters above sea level, overlooking the Dead Sea, Jericho and Jerusalem, is where the Prophet Moses looked over the Promised Land. A site that is historic as well as beautiful, Mount Nebo, became a pilgrimage site for early Christians and a small church was built to honor the Prophet Moses. The remains of the church are now combined with a newer basilica that shelters numerous excavations and detailed mosaics. Imposing and graceful, the serpentine cross (Brazen Serpent ) by Giovanni Fantoni, is a modern sculpture symbolizing Moses’ copper serpent, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

>> Kerak Castle, a 12th century Crusader castle, was originally built during pagan times to control the trade routes between Damascus, Egypt and Mecca. It eventually came under control of Raynald of Chatillon who harassed the trade caravans and attempted an attack on Mecca. The famous general Salah-El Din Al Ayoubi (Saladin) responded by taking siege of the castle. Kerak Castle, surrounded by a bustling city, illustrates the architecture of the times of the Crusades with immense arched halls and multilevel fighting galleries. Visitors walking through the castle feel the enduring strength of the massive walls and can imagine the refuge and security that was felt by its inhabitants long ago. The views from this castle are memorable.

>> From history books to Indiana Jones movies, the world over has tried to capture the magnificence of Petra, but unless you see it in person, you cannot comprehend its magnitude. Though archaeological evidence confirms that Petra has been inhabited long before the arrival of the Nabateans, it was they who transformed it into the imposing and majestic place that it is today. The ancient “rose-red city”, exquisitely carved into the rock contains more than 800 monuments, from the famous Treasury and Monastery, to homes, tombs, and theaters. The success of the Nabateans was based on their ingenious water system that enabled them to survive in the desert and prosper as a city and a trade route. Remnants of this water system based on aqueducts, ceramic pipes and dams is still in evidence today. Recent restorations of this hydraulic system have helped protect Petra from further weathering. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Petra is a one of a kind place, UNESCO described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." Come see it to believe it.

>> The rugged expanse of Wadi Rum is best experienced atop an old beduin jeep. Zigzagging around, over and down towering sand dunes surrounded by imposing mountains is a humbling experience even for the most seasoned explorer. Rum's terrain is often described as "a Martian experience" due to awe inspiring shades of red that flood the landscape through the color of its sand and mountains. Time slows to a crawl in this desert as evidenced by the time worn mountains that can only be described as melting into the dunes below them. A night under a perfect star lit sky in this vast region will awaken your senses to the simple life of the Bedouin who has inhabited this region for centuries.

 
 
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