If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, then you’ll have undoubtedly considered what is among the most famous archaeological sites in the world: Petra. The city is about as iconic as it gets when it comes to surviving remnants of the ancient world. As such, if you’re planning a tour of Jordan, it’s almost inevitable that Petra will feature somewhere in the itinerary.
However, to focus entirely on this one place would be to do a disservice to the rest of the country. There’s more for the average tourist to enjoy than just Petra, in other words. So, let’s consider what else is on offer.
Jordan is a country packed with history
There are several key historical sites worth mentioning, other than Petra.
On the hill named Jebel Al Qala’a, above the capital city of Amman, we find the Amman Citadel. This site has been inhabited since the Bronze age, and has been variously built on by the Romans, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Byzantines, and plenty of other peoples, too. The incomplete Temple of Hercules, with its gate, is spectacular during sunrise.
Staying in the capital, we find an enormous Roman theatre (this being a semi-circle, rather than the full circular amphitheatre). This is a massive and incredibly steep structure, designed such that onstage speakers will be able to address those right at the back without much difficulty. It faces north, so that spectators won’t need to roast in the sunshine.
Outside of Amman, we find the city of Jerash. There are actually two cities to consider here: the modern Jerash, and the ancient Greek one. This is among the best-preserved ruins from the period, which has earned it comparisons with the Ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
Finally, right at the northern border with Israel, there’s the Umm Qais (once the Roman city of Gadara. There are spectacular ruins, here – from where you can attain incredible views of the valley below.
The Dead Sea and Wadi Rum
While it’s not a ruin, the Dead Sea has played a pivotal role in the history of Jordan and surrounding countries in the Middle East. It’s found on the border between Jordan and Israel.On the other hand, there’s the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wadi Rum (or Valley of the Moon), which sits in the country’s southwest, near to Saudi Arabia. It’s an extremely inhospitable stretch of desert – or so it would appear. In fact, various people have made their homes here, and there are campsites for visiting tourists right in the middle of the sands. Naturally, the valley’s appearance in Lawrence of Arabia was instrumental in cementing its appeal to adventurous Western tourists!