5 tips for Amman

Buildings in Amman, Jordan
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Amman is considered one of the most liberal and westernized cities in the Arab world. Here you will find an urban mix of Arab tradition and Western culture. Amman is home to many historical sights and museums as well as centers that present modern Islamic culture. Be it in galleries that show modern art or in one of the many good restaurants that interpret traditional Arabic dishes in a completely new way. Life in the city is similar to other major cities around the world. It is a center for music, dance, art and culture. Amman also frequently hosts cultural events.

Amman’s old town is characterized by Arabic culture, old buildings and winding, narrow streets that are bustling with activity. The traditional souk is also located here. Here you can buy everything imaginable in the open air, for example authentic souvenirs.

Tip 1: Roman Theater

The Roman Amphitheater in Amman is a historic open-air theater and landmark of the Jordanian capital. Not only for history buffs and museum goers, this is a place not to be missed on your Jordan trip.

In the middle of the densely built-up center of the Jordanian capital Amman, stands the well-preserved Roman Theater. It was built as early as between 138 to 161 AD during the reign of Emperor Antonius Pius and was built directly into the hillside.

Roman Amphitheater in Amman
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In Roman antiquity, up to 6,000 spectators could watch the program on stage here in 44 rows of seats. The Odeon held another 500 people. In its heyday, the theater was an important forum with magnificent columns and formed the center of the city, which the Romans called Philadelphia.

The remains of some of the columns can still be seen today and at that time they marked the main traffic route that connected the east with the west of the city. Through an arched gate, one also reached the citadel hill of Amman from here in Roman times.

The amphitheater in eastern Amman is considered the largest and most impressive theater in Jordan. Therefore, it is not surprising that even today the theater is used for major events in an impressive setting.

Tip 2: Citadel Hill

The Citadel Hill is the historical heart of the city. It has been inhabited almost continuously since the late 2nd millennium BC. Epoch after epoch has left its archaeologically tangible traces here. The hill, which from the bird’s eye view shows the shape of a big L, has several sights to offer.

Two main fortresses belong to the citadel hill. The upper fortress is located on the northern spur of the hill. The lower fortress is located on the eastern spur of the L-shaped hill. Only a few ruined walls remain of the lower fortress. The more impressive ruins are located in the central part of the hill and on the northern spur of the hill.

Citadel Hill in Amman
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The fortresses were rebuilt, destroyed, rebuilt and extended several times. The walls of the citadel date mostly from the 2nd century AD, when Amman was part of the Roman Empire. Roman legions were stationed here. In addition, the Roman governor resided here, overlooking the subjugated subjects down in the city from the hill. The fortress hill was also occupied in Byzantine times. After the Muslim Arabs conquered Amman in the 7th century, the fortress continued to be used. Under the Omayyad Caliphs, who resided in Damascus, the fortifications and walls of the citadel hill were renewed and expanded.

Also originally from the Roman period is the Temple of Heracles/Hercules at the southwest corner of the hill.

Tip 3: King Abdallah I Mosque

On the hill Jebel al-Weibdeh in the western part of the Jordanian of the Jordanian capital Amman lies one of the city’s landmarks, the King Abdullah Mosque. Its blue main dome, decorated with mosaics, and the two slender minarets on either side can be seen from afar.

King Abdullah Mosque in Amman
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The mosque was built in honor of King Abdullah ibn Hussein I, the first king of Jordan, and opened in 1986. Until 2006, the structure, built in the style of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, was the country’s national mosque. It has since become one of Amman’s many mosques, but a particularly handsomely designed one. The mosque complex houses a museum of Islamic history and religion.

Tip 4: Madaba Map

A map made up of thousands of small tiles surrounds Jerusalem, the former center of the Christian world. The mosaic map of Madaba in the Jordanian city of the same name is the oldest original map in the world. Created more than 1,500 years ago on the floor of a Christian church in what is now Jordan, this topographical work of art is one of the country’s most beautiful and important sights.

The mosaic map of Madaba near Amman

The mosaic shows Palestine, the Holy Land, in its extension around the year 570, and in detail the important places of the Christian world, rivers, mountains and geographical features were reproduced. The map covers an area from Lebanon to the Egyptian Nile Delta and from the Mediterranean Sea to the desert. The center of the map is Jerusalem, the holiest place of Christianity at that time. The buildings that can be seen on the map can be dated back to the period between 540 and 570.

Tip 5: Mount Nebo

Only about 30 kilometers southwest of the center of Amman, the capital of Jordan, Mount Nebo rises from the surrounding plateau and from a rather barren landscape. This highland slopes in a southwesterly direction to the Dead Sea and westward to the Jordan Rift Valley. The Jordan Valley lies to the north of the Dead Sea, and it is only about 15 kilometers as the crow flies from the summit of Mount Nebo down into the depression.

Mount Nebo near Amman
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The summit of Mount Nebo is one of the highest elevations in this area, which is why the panorama is magnificent, especially to the west and southwest. On a clear day, you can see not only the Dead Sea and its waves shimmering in the sun, but also the West Bank behind it and sometimes even Israel and its capital Jerusalem, which lies about 40 kilometers away to the west. A good starting point for an excursion to Mount Nebo is Madaba, an ancient Jordanian city that used to be called Medaba. From there, it is only a few kilometers to the summit of Mount Nebo.