Situated in the western portion of the Middle East is one of the world’s most unique and historically significant countries, Jordan. With indicators dating Jordan back to the Paleolithic period, this modern day monarchy has some incredibly deep roots that mask unfathomable depths of history. What makes this country so unique, however, are the ancient preserved sites that visitors are still able to visit today. Effortlessly juxtaposing time-carved natural wonders and time-tested man made legacies with bustling, modern cities, Jordan itself is truly a wonder of the world.
Visit Ancient Jordan
Jordan is home to some of the world’s most important ancient religious sites. From the baptismal point of Jesus Christ (alongside the Jordan River) and the mountain (Mount Nebo) where Moses gazed over the Promised Land to the Crusader’s Castle of Montreal to the desert fort of Qasr Amra, visitors will have weeks of destinations to visit here.
The most amazing of Jordan’s ancient sites, however, is the archaeological site of Petra. Dating back to 300 B.C., this ancient rock-carved city is quite literally built into the surrounding sandstone, and home to an amphitheatre, “treasury”, tombs, temples, dwellings and more. Visitors are able to walk or ride their way around this timeless treasure, with wind and water-cut passageways, intricate carvings and ethereal surroundings making up its landscape. UNESCO declared this site as" one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage"; no wonder it’s the first stop recommended by any Jordan tourism guide.
A close second in the list of archaeological gems is the ancient city of Jerash. Catch subtle glimpses of Arab influences coexisting with Graeco Roman architecture while taking a walk through the ruins comprising Hadrian’s Arch, Hippodrome, tall colonnades and even an ancient synagogue.
A short drive away from Jerash through pine forests and olive groves, one can sample military architecture at the medieval Aljoun Castle, built in 1184 AD to protect Jordan’s commercial and trade routes to the valley. The market town and the natural reserve nearby make for a pleasant trip to this hilly terrain in North Jordan.
Madaba, also called the “City of Mosaics” showcases hundreds of mosaics from the 5th through the 7th centuries that can be seen at Madaba’s churches and homes including the 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in St. George’s Church. The city lies along the Kings Highway, from where one can venture further to catch glimpses of the rural countryside, castles and even the Dana Natural Reserve.
Combine your day of historical exploration with some therapeutic relaxation at the thermal mineral springs of Hammamat Ma'in nearby.
Explore Jordan’s Natural Wonders
While planning your Jordan holiday, your Jordan tour guide will confidently inform you that this country’s bestowment of natural wonders are equally, if not more incredible than its ancient man-made sites! Just pay a visit to the eerie Wadi Rum and you’ll get the idea. Known as the Valley of the Moon, this lunar, otherworldly landscape is cut from sandstone and granite, illustrated with ancient inscriptions, paintings and carved temples, indicating an inhabitation by humans since prehistoric times. A big draw for trekking, camelback tours and rock climbing, Wadi Rum has become one of the most popular attractions in Jordan.
On the opposite side of the natural wonder spectrum lies another of the world’s greatest oddities: The Dead Sea. Also known as the Salt Lake, this therapeutic body of water (and surrounding area) is famed for its remedial qualities, mineral rich black mud, hot springs and enriched oxygen atmosphere. For travelers looking to combine health and wellness into their vacation, Jordan’s Dead Sea is an absolute must visit!
Aqaba takes the natural beauty quotient underwater where the Red Sea’s thriving marine life, corals and crystal clear water provide excellent diving opportunities. The Gulf of Aqaba has water based adventure sports aplenty and excellent beaches to relax from a whirlwind round of historical exploration.
Sample Modern Day Jordan
Though Amman is one of the world’s oldest cities (with the sites to prove it), modern day Jordan is best experienced here. This capital city has quite an exciting contemporary side from the Royal Automobile Museum and magnificent King Abdullah I Mosque to its high-end hotels, excellent shopping and delicious restaurants & café. Don’t miss the bustling city center, Archaeological Museum, Abu Darweesh Mosque and a surprisingly good nightlife!
Irbid, Jordan’s second largest city is a young town, inhabited by a student community that throngs its university and research institutions. Naturally the accompaniments of a bustling city with coffee shops and eateries abound, as do a few of Jordan’s famous museums, from the Museum of Jordanian Heritage to the Natural History Museum. But one can never be too far from the archaeological treasures that are strewn around this historic land, and the town makes a good base for day trips to Umm Qays and Pella nearby.
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