|Total States||12 governorates|
|Airport City||Queen Alia International Airport,Amman , King Hussein International Airport,Aqaba , Queen Alia International Airport,Amman,|
|Offical Languages||Arabic, English, French, Armenian,|
|National Animal||Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx)|
|Food||Mansaf, Falafel, Maqluba|
Autumn : Sep - Nov
Summer : Jun - Aug
Winter : Dec - Feb
Sprint : Mar - May
Amman is the capital and most populous city of Jordan, and the country's economic, political and cultural centre. Situated in north-central Jordan, Amman is the administrative centre of the Amman Governorate. The city has a population of 4,007,526 and a land area of 1,680 square kilometres (648.7 square miles). Today, Amman is considered to be among the most modernized Arab cities. It is a major tourist destination in the region, particularly among Arab and European tourists.
The ruined city of Jerash is Jordan's largest and most interesting Roman site, and a major tourist drawcard. Its imposing ceremonial gates, colonnaded avenues, temples and theatres all speak to the time when this was an important imperial centre. Even the most casual fan of archaeology will enjoy a half-day at the site – but take a hat and sunscreen in the warmer months, as the exposed ruins can be very hot to explore.
The site covers a huge area and can seem daunting at first, especially as there's virtually no signage. To help the ruins come alive, engage one of the knowledgeable guides (JD20) at the ticket checkpoint to help you navigate the main complex. Walking at a leisurely pace, and allowing time for sitting on a fallen column and enjoying the spectacular views, you can visit the main ruins in a minimum of three to four hours.
The spectacular sandstone city of Petra was built in the 3rd century BC by the Nabataeans, who carved palaces, temples, tombs, storerooms and stables from the soft stone cliffs. Today it is a World Heritage Site that needs little introduction; suffice to say, no visit to Jordan is complete without at least two days spent exploring the remarkable Ancient City. It is approached through the adjacent town of Wadi Musa, which is the accommodation and transport hub.
It was from Petra that the Nabataeans, a community of master builders whose skills included hydraulic engineering, iron production and copper refining, commanded the trade routes from Damascus to Arabia, profiting by the taxes paid on the caravans that passed through Nabataean territory. An earthquake in AD 555 is the most likely cause of the city's demise, but thankfully many of Petra's most impressive structures remain intact, making it a treasure trove of architectural surprises, hidden along hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties.
Wadi Rum is a protected area covering 720 square kilometers of dramatic desert wilderness in the south of Jordan. Huge mountains of sandstone and granite emerge, sheer-sided, from wide sandy valleys to reach heights of 1700 meters and more. Narrow canyons and fissures cut deep into the mountains and many conceal ancient rock drawings etched by the peoples of the desert over millennia. Bedouin tribes still live among the mountains of Rum and their large goat-hair tents are a special feature of the landscape.
There are many ways to enjoy the attractions of Rum, including jeep, camel and hiking tours and you can stay overnight in a Bedouin tent and gaze at the amazing panoply of stars.
To safeguard its unique desert landscape, Wadi Rum was declared a protected area in1998 and an intensive conservation programme is now underway.
This historic castle was built atop Mt ‘Auf (1250m) between 1184 and 1188 by one of Saladin’s generals, ‘Izz ad Din Usama bin Munqidh (who was also Saladin’s nephew). The castle commands views of the Jordan Valley and three wadis leading into it, making it an important strategic link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders and a counterpoint to the Crusader Belvoir Fort on the Sea of Galilee in present-day Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
The castle was enlarged in 1214 with the addition of a new gate in the southeastern corner, and once boasted seven towers as well as a 15m-deep dry moat. With its hilltop position, Qala’at Ar Rabad was one in a chain of beacons and pigeon posts that enabled messages to be transmitted from Damascus to Cairo in a single day. The rearing of pigeons is still a popular pastime in the area.
After the Crusader threat subsided, the castle was largely destroyed by Mongol invaders in 1260, only to be almost immediately rebuilt by the Mamluks. In the 17th century an Ottoman garrison was stationed here, after which it was used by local villagers. Earthquakes in 1837 and 1927 badly damaged the castle, though slow and steady restoration is continuing.
Note that there is a useful explanation in English just inside the main gate, and a small museum containing pots, snatches of mosaics and some intriguing medieval hand grenades. Apart from this, nothing else in the castle is signposted, although not much explanation is needed to bring the place to life, especially given that the views from these lofty heights are nothing short of spectacular.
Madaba has one of Jordan's largest Christian communities. The town’s long tradition of religious tolerance is joyfully – and loudly – expressed on Friday, when imams (religious teachers) summon the faithful to pray before dawn, and bells bid Orthodox Christians to rise at first light.
The town remains one of the most traveller friendly in Jordan, and it's an alternative to Amman as a base for exploring the King’s Highway and Dead Sea highlights. By taxi, you can even travel directly from Queen Alia International Airport in around 20 minutes, bypassing Amman altogether.
Raghadan Palace is a national landmark that embodies the story of Jordan, its history and culture, as it ushers in a new era of prosperity, development and work for the future. The Palace — where politics, economy and literature intertwined — is a command centre, a symbol of rule, a home for the people and a house for the nation.
The area known as the Citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel Al Qala’a (about 850m above sea level), and is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon. Occupied since the Bronze Age, it's surrounded by a 1700m-long wall, which was rebuilt many times during the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods. There's plenty to see, but the Citadel's most striking sights are the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace.
The two giant standing pillars are the remains of the Roman Temple of Hercules. Once connected to the Forum (downtown), the temple was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 161–80). The only obvious remains are parts of the podium and the columns, which are visible from around town. There’s also a rather touching remnant of a stone-carved hand, which shows the level of detail that would have adorned the temple in its glory days. Nearby is a lookout with sweeping views of the downtown area.
Known locally as Al Khazneh, this tomb is where most visitors fall in love with Petra. The Hellenistic facade is an astonishing piece of craftsmanship. Although carved out of iron-laden sandstone to serve as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III (c 100 BCE–CE 200), the Treasury derives its name from the story that an Egyptian pharaoh hid his treasure here (in the facade urn) while pursuing the Israelites.
Some locals clearly believed the tale because the 3.5m-high urn is pockmarked by rifle shots. As with all rock-hewn monuments in Petra, the interior is unadorned. The Treasury is at its most photogenic in full sunlight between about 9am and 11am.
Ad Deir, also known as El Deir, is a monumental building carved out of rock in the ancient Jordanian city of Petra. Arguably one of the most iconic monuments in the Petra Archaeological Park, the Monastery is located high in the hills northwest of the Petra city center.
The 1.2km Siq, or canyon, with its narrow, vertical walls, is undeniably one of the highlights of Petra. The walk through this magical corridor, as it snakes its way towards the hidden city, is one full of anticipation for the wonders ahead – a point not wasted on the Nabataeans, who made the passage into a sacred way, punctuated with sites of spiritual significance.
The Siq starts at an obvious bridge, beside a modern dam. The dam was built in 1963, on top of a Nabataean dam dated AD 50, to stop floodwater from Wadi Musa flowing through the Siq. To the right, Wadi Muthlim heads through a Nabataean tunnel – the start (or finish) of an exciting hike. The entrance to the Siq was once marked by a Nabataean monumental arch. It survived until the end of the 19th century, and some remains can be seen at twin niches on either side of the entrance. Many people charge through the Siq impatient to get to Petra. That’s a pity because the corridor of stone is worth enjoying for its own sake and the longer you take to travel through it, the more you can savour the final moment of arrival.
Carved into the side of the mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice, the theatre of Petra consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways. Seven stairways ascended the cavea (seating section) which accommodated 4000 spectators. The monument was carved in the mountainside during the reign of King Aretas IV (4 BCE - 27 CE). The Romans rebuilt the stage back wall.
This rather modest 19th-century Greek Orthodox church houses a treasure of early Christianity. Imagine the excitement in 1884 when Christian builders came across the remnants of a Byzantine church on their construction site. Among the rubble, having survived wilful destruction, fire and neglect, the flooring they discovered wasn’t just another mosaic but one with extraordinary significance: to this day, it represents the oldest map of Palestine in existence and provides many historical insights into the region.
Crafted in AD 560, the map has 157 captions (in Greek) depicting all the major biblical sites of the Middle East, from Egypt to Palestine. It was originally around 15m to 25m long and 6m wide, and once contained more than two million pieces. Although much of the mosaic has been lost, enough remains to sense the complexity of the whole.
Downhill from the Theatre, the wadi widens to create a larger thoroughfare. To the right, the great massif of Jebel Al Khubtha looms over the valley. Within its west-facing cliffs are burrowed some of the most impressive burial places in Petra, known collectively as the ‘Royal Tombs’. They look particularly stunning bathed in the golden light of sunset.
The Royal Tombs are reached via a set of steps that ascends from the valley floor, near the Theatre. A worthwhile hike from the Royal Tombs leads up to the numerous places of worship on the flattened High Place of Jebel Khubtha, together with a spectacular view of the Treasury. The steps are easily visible between the Palace Tomb and the Sextius Florentinus Tomb. The Royal Tombs can also be reached via the adventurous hike through Wadi Muthlim.
An obvious path leads through the 400m-long Siq Al Barid, opening out into flat, sandy areas. The first open area boasts a temple while four triclinia – one on the left and three on the right – are in the second open area. These were probably used as dining rooms to feed hungry merchants and travellers. About 50m further along the siq is the Painted House, another small dining room reached by some exterior steps.
The Painted House is worth a closer look as faded but still vivid frescoes of vines, flowers and birds on the underside of the interior arch are a rare example of Nabataean painting, though the walls have been blackened by Bedouin campfires. Cut into the rock opposite the room is a large cistern; there are also worn water channels at various points along the siq.
1 ) Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival
Each year in February, an annual celebration takes place in the seaport city of Aqaba. The Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival in Jordan promotes and preserves the culture of the Bedouin people and community in the region. The festival showcases handcrafted goods made by the Bedouin people and also serves to maintain and honor the Bedouin traditions.
2 ) Jerash Festival
This exciting festival in Jordan, in the ancient city of Jerash, happens to be one of the biggest cultural events not only in Jerash but in all of the country. The festival is inclusive and attracts both locals from the region and tourists who all want to enjoy the music, dancing, food, and crafts of the festival. The cultural event also promotes the arts by hosting a variety of workshops and lectures held by artists which are all open to the public to enjoy. There are also a variety of handmade crafts and food that are available at the Jerash Festival in Jordan.