Unique Sites and Ancient Ruins
Visiting Jordan is the best way to witness first-hand the archaeological and cultural diversity of its rich history. Jordan can be your destination whether for visiting unique sites and ancient ruins, seeking adventure and outdoor physical activities, or seeking spiritual enrichment.
Amman is the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is the largest city in Jordan and is situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.
Amman is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world dating back to the Neolithic period; which is evident in the archaeological findings of remnants of settled life in stone carved villages and artistic works of pottery found in “Ain Ghazal” in eastern Amman.
Throughout history, the ancient city of Amman was at the crossroads of different civilisations. In the 13th century BC, Amman was the capital of the Ammonites who named it Rabbath Ammon. Over time, “Rabbath” was no longer used and the city became known as Ammon. In the 3rd century BC, during the rule of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, he changed the name of the city to Philadelphia. The name Philadelphia was maintained during the Roman rule starting from 63 BC, and it became one of the Decapolis cities along with other cities in Jordan, including Jerash (Gerasa), Umm Qais (Gadara) and Pella. It was only during the era of the Islamic rule, around the year 635 CE, that the name of the city returned to its Semitic origin of Ammon, or “Amman.”
Amman, which is the centre of commerce, industry and politics in Jordan, is considered among the most developed Arab capitals. It is a city of contrasts, with a unique blend of the old and new; reflecting its rich culture and unique identity.
The ancient city of Petra is the most famous archaeological site and premier tourist destination in Jordan. Known as the Rose Red City, Petra is a sandstone city carved into rose red colour mountains. Once the capital of the Arab Nabatean Kingdom, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra is located in the southern part of Jordan, 240 km south of the capital Amman and 120 km from the port city of Aqaba.
The Jordanian desert valley of Wadi Rum, also known as Valley of the Moon, is the largest valley (wadi) in Jordan. Located in the far south of Jordan, to the east of the city of Aqaba, Wadi Rum is cut into sandstone and granite rock. With its rolling sand dunes, rock formations and clear night skies, it is famous for its camping and glamping sites as well as other activities including rock climbing, horse riding, camel riding, and hot air balloon rides.
Several Hollywood movies were filmed in Wadi Rum, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), The Martian (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2017), and Aladdin (2019).
The Dead Sea lies in the Jordan Valley around 60 kilometres southwest of Amman. It is the lowest point on earth and the largest “natural spa” in the world. The high salt concentration in the water makes it dense that people float on it. The Dead Sea is also a desired destination for skin care and wellness treatments. The salt and mineral content in the water and mud aid in healing many skin ailments like psoriasis, arthritis, vitiligo and joint disorders.
Jerash is a 30-minute drive from the capital Amman. It is one of the most well-preserved Roman cities outside of Rome. Among the ruins in Jerash are two fascinating open-air theatres, the North Theatre that has a seating capacity of 1,600 people, and the South Theatre that seats 3,000 people. The ancient city of Jerash comes to life in July every year when it hosts the annual Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts. Jordanian, Arab and foreign performers come to perform on the ancient theatres of the city. The stage performances include folklore dances, ballet, opera, plays and concerts.
Madaba city is located southwest of the capital Amman. It is the “City of Mosaics” and home to the oldest surviving map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, located in the Orthodox Church of Saint George.
Mount Nebo is approximately 710 meters above sea level, with a panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, Bethlehem and the hilltops of Jerusalem. It is where Moses stood and viewed the Holy Land of Canaan that he would never enter.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan
Bethany Beyond the Jordan is the site of John the Baptist’s settlement at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Located in the Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea, it has been confirmed as the site where Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Citadel sits on the highest hill in the heart of Amman and has a panoramic view of the city. It contains remnants of several civilisations. Most of the buildings still visible at the site are from the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods.
Aqaba is in the south of Jordan and is the only coastal city in the country. It sits on the northern part of the Red Sea and is known for its amazing coral reefs. Aqaba has many coastal resorts and retreats offering many attractions, including water sports and diving.
Umm Qais (Gadara)
Umm Qais or Gadara is one of the ancient Decapolis cities. It is a UNISCO World Heritage site located in the northern part of Jordan around 110 kilometres north of Amman. It is 378 metres above sea level and has a panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, the Yarmouk River, Mount Hermon, Lake Tiberias and the Golan Heights.
This ancient city was built from black basalt and white limestone. There are colonnaded streets, Roman theatres, a panoramic courtyard, an Ottoman village, a Byzantine church and a temple that was built in the Hellenistic era in the third century BC.