The site of Jordan’s international airport; Amman has the large population (2 million) and is the capital city of Jordan. Amman is one of the world’s oldest continuously-inhabited cities, and was called ‘Philadelphia’ in ancient times. In fact, it may be even older: recent excavations have uncovered structures believed to date as far back as the Stone Age. In the Old Testament, Amman was known as ‘Rabbath-Ammon’, the capital of the Ammonites. As “Lawrence of Arabia’s” Great Arab Revolt proceeded and the state of Transjordan was established, Emir Abdullah ibn Al-Hussein (founder of the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), in 1921 made Amman his capital. Amman was originally built upon 7 hills but has overspread beyond these now. Present-day Amman is an intriguing mix of stylish and old-fashioned; modern and old; cutting-edge and conservative. Fashionable housewives frequent designer shops in modern shopping malls and old men sit for hours in old coffeeshops, smoking narghile (hookahs). The buildings (required by local statute) are faced with white limestone which glows pink during sunrise and sunset times. There are many fashionable restaurants & shopping areas; as well as traditional small ‘soukhs’ from where one can buy spices, handicrafts, fresh produce, etc.
Apart from the wonderful ‘people-watching’ opportunities, the main sightseeing attraction in Amman is ‘The Citadel,’ which is located high atop one of the city’s many hills – it was a fortress in ancient times; and excavations there have revealed remains from the Middle Bronze Age (approximately 2 million B.C.) and the Iron Age (8th century B.C.) as well as from the Hellenistic (2nd century B.C.) and late Roman to Arab Islamic time periods. It boasts restored Roman ruins with a breathtaking view of the surrounding city. There is also the small, but very important Jordan Archeological Museum on the site which contains numerous ancient artifacts (ranging from prehistoric times to the 15th century), including a collection of Dead Sea scrolls discovered in 1952. Among the sites at The Citadel are the Umayyad Palace complex, known as ‘Al Qaser, and dating to about 720AD. The Citadel also contains the remains of a small Byzantine basilica with Corinthian columns marking the site (dating from 6th or 7th century A.D.) and the remains of the Temple of Hercules; now known as the Great Temple of Amman, built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.).
Nearby The Citadel, in the downtown area, is a restored (outdoor) Roman-era theatre, where city events are still held to this day. Another stop that INSIDER’S PETRA recommends is the King Abdullah Mosque (a working mosque; a visit inside must be arranged in advance, but is easily done). Another wonderful mosque is the Grand Husseini Mosque, in downtown Amman near the gold soukh. It was built in 1924 by the late King Abdullah I (grandfather of the present King) on the site of an ancient 7th century mosque. There are a number of excellent hotels and restaurants in Amman; and INSIDER’S PETRA ‘tailors’ them to our clients needs.
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