Getting to know Jordan
It’s hard to imagine a better place to get a taste of the Middle East than Jordan. Safe and welcoming, the location offers visitors a chance to see world-renowned attractions up close while also receiving world-class service. Once you’ve immersed yourself in the laid-back atmosphere of this country, you’ll feel completely at home.
Jordan is home to a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 1,300-year-old desert castle of Quseir Amra has faded frescos worth admiring. Wadi Rum’s awe-inspiring desert beauty includes red sand dunes and aged sandstone. Also plan to spend at least two days in Petra, Jordan’s most famous landmark. You’ll be awestruck by the awe-inspiring sights in the old Nabatean city.
Jordan, on the other hand, isn’t just a product of the past. Jordan’s highland capital city, Amman, is home to a vibrant restaurant and cafe scene, as well as some of the world’s most outstanding art galleries. In addition, there’s the Dead Sea, where you may relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing at one of the many luxurious waterfront resorts that line the shore.
The Dead Sea
A Jordanian must-do is floating in the Dead Sea. This body of water is the lowest spot on Earth that can be accessed by vehicle. When viewed against the backdrop of salt-coated rock ledges and barren red mountains, it appears to glow an intense shade of aquamarine. From Amman, it takes around an hour to drive to the Dead Sea region’s attractions.
The Dead Sea’s mineral-rich water is widely known. People who practice holistic medicine believe that water can help heal the skin. The Dead Sea is so dense and salty that all you can do is float on its surface, so don’t expect to perform any swimming.
Amman Beach is one of several sites from which one can enter the Dead Sea. A luxurious spa resort on the Dead Sea’s northeast coast is an even better option. Wading pools and buckets of mud are common features in their private regions. This red-brown sludge will leave your skin softer than ever after only one use.
Petra will take your breath away. More than two centuries after it was first discovered by Swiss adventurer Jean Louis Burckhardt, this New7Wonder of the World has continued to astonish new visitors.
At least two days are required to see all of Petra’s attractions, which comprise over 800 recognized sites. You won’t be disappointed with your more time here if you have it. What an incredible experience it is to walk about a city this old and well-preserved.
Petra doesn’t spare any time in captivating visitors. The Djinn Blocks, massive stone monuments whose original purpose is still a mystery, follow the Obelisk Tomb immediately after the entry. This is just a taste of what’s to come.
Your next stop will be the famed Siq, a narrow canyon route backed by towering cliffs. Along the walls, you’ll witness the remains of ancient water conduits and niches for sacred carvings known as baetyls, which were used to supply water to Petra. Petra may have formerly been regarded as a holy city, as evidenced by these artifacts. There are also weathered reliefs representing camels being led by traders to be found.
Finally, you’ll arrive at the Treasury, which is clearly marked (also known as Al-Khazneh). Its Hellenistic facade is one of Jordan’s most captivating attractions, and it appears in practically every tourist guide and social media post about Petra. According to legend, an Egyptian pharaoh’s treasure was hidden in the rock-hewn monument created as a final resting place for Nabatean King Aretas IV.
The Ruins of Jerash
Visiting the Jerash ruins is like stepping back in time. This ancient Roman city is one of the world’s best-preserved and has a wide range of stunning places to see, from colonnaded streets and temples to a vast sports arena that once held 15,000 people.
The Hadrian’s Arch is a popular first stop for visitors to the Jerash ruins. In its current form, the 11-meter-tall building is stunning, but its former size is even more astounding.
Imagine your astonishment when you discover what is ahead. Chariot races formerly drew tens of thousands of spectators to the Hippodrome, a sports area built in the second century. Daily re-enactments of the ancient sport, which featured gladiators battling and chariots racing laps, bring it to life.
The Forum, another noteworthy feature of the Jerash ruins, is well worth a visit. Oval-shaped columns line the perimeter of the plaza, giving it a regal aura. You can also obtain a better view of the colonnaded area by ascending the stairs of the neighboring Temple of Zeus. South Theater’s beautiful stage was also used for a variety of theatrical events. There seems to be a fascinating ruin in Jerash for everyone, so take some time to explore and find out which one you like.
In Jordan’s southernmost region, you’ll find one of the world’s most stunning landscapes: Wadi Rum. With towering cliffs, enormous dunes, swirling archways, and tunnels, this sandstone and granite rock valley is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. In 2011, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its role in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.
If you’re in the market for a new challenge, this is it: Tourists flock to Wadi Rum because the Zalabia Bedouin, a nomadic ethnic group, has transformed it into an ecotourism hotspot. Camel or Arabian horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking, canyoneering, and ATV trips are all options for getting about the region.
The Khazali Canyon contains petroglyphs of humans and antelopes that date as far back as the 8th century BC, so ask your guide to take you there.
Glamping (glamorous camping) in Wadi Rum is an option worth considering. The park’s near-zero light pollution makes it an excellent place to observe the night sky. It’s easy to see why visiting Wadi Rum is one of the best Jordan experiences.
The city of Aqaba
Think the Middle East is too hot and dry for a beach vacation? Think again! You may want to rethink this. Visitors to Aqaba, a seaside town located on the southern tip of Jordan, can enjoy vacations along the stunning Red Sea shoreline.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are all possible from Aqaba. The blue waters of the Caribbean can also be explored on a daily hotel cruise. A relaxing dip in one of the resort town’s many hammams is the perfect way to close up your Jordanian beach trip.
Aqaba’s specialty, sayadieh, is a fish dish served over fragrant rice and flavored with onion, tomato, and chili pepper.
Wadi Mujib, Jordan’s Grand Canyon, stretches 70 kilometers from the Desert Highway to the Dead Sea. The river canyon, which is four kilometers broad and one kilometer deep, provides a vast variety of animals, including Egyptian vultures, Nubian ibex, striped hyena, and the Syrian wolf, for nature lovers to observe.
If you don’t mind getting a little wet, the Wadi Mujib gorge is an excellent place to go hiking. The Mujib Reserve Biosphere, about an hour and a half from Amman, has beautiful hot springs.
Amman's Roman Ruins
Just a short distance from Petra, Jordan has a wealth of fascinating archeological sites. Even in Amman, Jordan’s capital city (where you’ll likely come from outside the country), you’ll find plenty of intriguing ruins that are all within walking distance of one another.
The Amman Citadel, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, is located in the heart of the city. Near the Citadel, archaeologists have unearthed evidence of human occupation dating back to the Bronze Age. The few remaining columns of the magnificent Temple of Hercules, a famous Roman construction that was never completed, can be seen here. Several fingers, formerly part of a Hercules statue as tall as 12 meters, can be found carved in stone. It serves as a reminder of the attraction’s former majesty.
The Roman Theater in Amman is a must-see for history buffs. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Amman was known as Philadelphia when it was occupied by the Romans, and the reconstructed amphitheater, which holds 6,000 people, dates back to that time. It’s still a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, presenting a variety of events and accommodating both groups.
One of the most popular attractions in the area is a Roman fountain, the Nymphaeum, which was built at roughly the same time as the theater.
Once you’ve had your fill of the ruins, take a tour of Rainbow Street in modern-day Amman. With a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops, the renowned promenade is a must-see for visitors.
The Madaba Mosaics
Many places need you to look up, but not so in Madaba, a city that dates back to the 13th century. On the floors of churches and buildings around the city, you’ll find the “biggest number of mosaics discovered in their original place” in the globe.
One of the most important mosaics in Jordan may be found at the St. George’s Church in Madaba. It shows the Holy Land in Byzantine times, demonstrating Biblical-era cartography on this 6th-century map. Even though some of the original two million tiles have been lost, the surviving map nevertheless provides a fascinating peek into what the Middle East was like hundreds of years ago..
More mosaics can be found in the two archeological parks of Madaba. An incredible geometric mosaic from the Church of the Virgin Mary, a site from the 6th century that was discovered in someone’s cellar in 1887, is on display at Archaeological Park I. A stunning carpet-like tilework depicting four seasons and nature was formerly part of a Byzantine villa that once stood on the site of the Jordan Valley’s oldest mosaic, which dates back to the 1st century BC.
Archaeological Park II, located in the ruins of a sumptuous home from the early sixth century, also has some impressive mosaics for visitors to see.