Explore Jordan: The Ultimate Guide
Petra Archaeological Park
Petra Archaeological Park is one of the most visited attractions in the whole of Jordan and, not by chance, one of UNESCO World’s Heritage Sites! This park is located in Wadi Musa, about 120 km from the Red Sea and 240 km from the capital of the country. The main attraction of Petra Archaeological Park is obviously Petra. This historical city was founded approximately 2,000 years ago and was carved out of pink-hued rock mountains! Petra was a flourishing city due to its strategic location as it was, in fact, an important stop along the Arabian trade routes. However, in later years, it was conquered by the Romans and in 363 AD it was partly destroyed by an earthquake. The city was soon forgotten and only in 1812, it regained world’s fame when explorer Johannes Burckhardt discovered its ruins thanks to a local Bedouin. The city soon became a popular attraction among travellers from all over the world and today is one of the most important archaeological sites in the whole Middle East. Petra is also extremely close to Israel and you will be able to visit this site on a one-day or multi-day trip.
Must-visit attractions at the Petra Archaeological Park
In order to access Petra, you will have to go through the Siq, a long narrow canyon famous for its gorgeous colors. The first thing you will see as you arrive at the site is the majestic Treasury (Al Khazna), an amazingly intricately decorated facade measuring 40 metres in height! The treasury features a huge rock-carved urn and several Greek and Roman-style columns. After seeing the facade, make sure to explore the other sites present in the park, for instance, the series of Royal Tombs including the famous Corinthian Tomb and the Palace Tomb. The most stunning of these is surely the Urn Tomb located high on the mountainside next to the Silk Tomb which takes its name from its colorful stone facade. Another must-visit in the area is the Petra Monastery, locally known as Al Deir. This gorgeous building dates back to the 1st-century CE and measures 45 metres in height. These are just some of the most popular attractions present in the Petra Archeological Park, however, the whole park abounds in amazing sites and landscapes. If you want to visit this stunning place, take a look at our tours departing from Israel.
With its ancient roots and its vibrant modern vibes, the multi-cultural city of Amman is definitely worth visiting! This urban jungle is located between the Jordan Valley and the desert and is characterised by a labyrinth of small streets perfectly in contrast with the many wide avenues and modern business blocks also present in the city. If you like small towns and historical sites, make sure to visit the downtown area known as ‘Old Amman’. Here you will find traditional small artisan shops, street stalls selling all sorts of goods and the city souqs, the local market. This area is the true heart of the city and a must-visit destination for all tourists eager to discover the more traditional part of the city. Old Amman is also the perfect place to try the local cuisine or take a break in a shisha cafés. The other main area of the city is known as Abdali. This place is characterised by pedestrian streets, big stores and plenty of restaurants and cafés for you to relax after a long day of wandering. The residential suburbs are located outside of the city centre and consist of lovely houses all built with white stone, creating a wonderful scenery! Lastly, if you like modern architecture and big metropolises, make sure to visit West Amman, home to the modern part of the city where you will find plenty of skyscrapers and modern buildings.
The history of Amman
Evidence suggests that the first settlement present in this area dates back to the Neolithic Period, more precisely in 6,500 BC. During the Iron Age, Amman became the capital of the Ammonites, a population mentioned in the bible. Some ruins of the fortress towers that used to protect the city in this period can still be seen nowadays! In the following years, Amman was ruled by a number of foreign populations ranging from the Assyrians to the Persians, Greeks, Babylonians, Nabataeans and the Ptolemaic Kingdom. During the Ptolemaic rule, Amman became widely known as Philadelphia, in honour of the Ptolemaic leader, Philadelphus. Eventually, Amman became part of the Roman Empire and enjoyed a period of stability in which it flourished exponentially, becoming an important stop on several Arabian trade routes. During the Byzantine Era, the city of Amman saw the construction of two churches under the Christian Eastern Roman Empire. In the 7th-century, a new religion, coming from the Arabian Peninsula spread across the whole country. This religion, Islam, is still the main faith in Jordan and it’s thanks to its spread that the city acquired its current name, Ammon or Amman. Unfortunately, during the crusades, Amman lost most of its power and, during the Ottoman Empire, it remained a minor city. Evidence suggests that in 1806 the city was only inhabited by Bedouins but, as the Ottoman Empire left the area, the city soon started to flourish again. In 1905, the famous Hejaz Railway was terminated linking Amman to important cities such as Damascus and Medina causing a sudden increase in the population. In 1923, the Emirate of Transjordan was established and in 1945 the country reached its independence. Amman was chosen as the capital of this newly established country and since then it kept growing, becoming one of the most important cities in the Middle East.
What to do and visit in Amman
Amman is a vibrant city with plenty of activities available for everyone! Here you will find water parks, spas, cinemas, theatres, traditional bathhouses, concerts halls and more! In the periphery of the city, is also located the famous King Hussein National Park for all nature lovers to explore. In the evening, the city comes to life with its many clubs playing all sorts of music ranging from traditional Arabic music to modern music and more. If you love shopping, make sure to visit Rainbow Street, known for its variety of antique shops and local businesses, or Wakalat Street where you will find the most popular international brand-name stores. If you’re interested in the history of this ancient city, then head towards the Citadel, known as Jabal Al-Qala’a, the site of biblical Rabbath-Amman. This area is characterised by the ruins of the Roman, Islamic and Byzantine eras. The most popular attraction is surely the Islamic Umayyad Era palace along with the National Archaeological Museum where most of the antiquities found in the area are displayed. Other places of interest include the Ummayad Palace and the ruins of a Roman temple, a Greek temple as well as a Byzantine church. Amman is also ideal for those who love modern architecture. In fact, this city is home to King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque, an impressive building built in the Ottoman-style in 1924. This city is also home to the Gold Souq, the Ammonite-Era watchtower and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts! Amman is a gorgeous city with so much going on every day! If you’re interested in visiting this capital with one of our expert guides, make sure to join one of our multi-day tours in Israel and Jordan departing from Israel.