Amman- the capital and the most populous city of Jordan is usually referred to as the “white city.” Owing to its Roman origin, Amman is built on seven hills that form its natural points of focus. Now the modern buildings and remarkable hotel and tourist facilities, especially in the jabal areas further enhance its ability as a major tourist destination. The traditional city is most evident in the central market or souk. The souk offers an exciting trip to the tourist, very different from the usual shopping malls found elsewhere in the world in any of the major cities. Throughout the city, one finds numerous remains of Romans, Greeks and Turks. A major attraction, obviously, is the Roman amphitheater located right in the center of the city. This very famous amphitheater often appears in the movies and to witness it in real life brings the Roman history right before your eyes and captures your heart and soul. In addition, various well-known museums including the Archaeological Museum, the National Gallery of Fine Arts and Popular Museum of Costume and Jewelry are located in Jebel el Qalat. Because of its small size, any city in Jordon is easily accessible from the capital city of Amman.
Jordon enjoys only a single port located at the northeast end of the Gulf of Aqaba. This port can be accessed from Amman by road or air. Because of its exceptional beach and water sporting activities coupled with warm weather and low humidity, Jordon’s port also serves as a major tourist attraction. Amman welcomes its visitors with a vast variety of small shops and a number of signature restaurants. However, major tourist facilities are provided for by the hotels. These facilities are not only limited to windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing as well as fishing. Majority of these hotels also have swimming pools and offer a variety of continental and traditional cuisine. Some also cater to businesses and provide conferencing facilities. Few of the other treasures of Jordan include Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba’s Church which has been recently excavated and wears the crown of being one of the oldest buildings in the world.
Petra adds to the amazing attractions of the Middle-East. It is especially renowned for its exquisitely carved amphitheater hidden in the rocks enhanced by dexterous colors. This piece of natural art was lost for centuries, but fortunately rediscovered in 1812. Above a high chasm, one can spot exotic temples and caves with its gate or Bab over 70 feet high, represented by humongous white rocks. However, Nabatean Arabs have been pioneers in the building of most parts of the city centuries ago. Furthermore, Romans enhanced it by carving the amphitheater. Petra is only accessible on horseback for obvious reasons.
The lowest point on Earth is also harbourbed in Jordan. 392 meters below sea level, The Dead Sea exhibits its uniqueness by portraying a very uncommon dry landscape. It is said that the cities mentioned in the bible, Sodom and Gomorrah, are located underneath its waters. This is the only barrier separating Jordan from Palestine and enables an individual to freely float on its surface without making any effort owing to the salt rich water. For the same reason, the Dead Sea does not support any life.
Umm Qais boasts of a city equipped with Roman tombs and statues that present a site worth visiting for the tourists. It also offers narrow streets with shops clustered together in a congested area and arched entrances to the market place. All these again reflect the cultural influences on the country. The northwest border from Umm Qais to Jerash is filled with lush green scenic views to entertain the visitors. The town of Al Hammeh is well-known for its hot springs and mineral waters. An important excavation of Pella makes an amazing stop for the visitor along with the castle of Qalaat al-Rabadh built at the hilltop to serve its defensive purpose. The Valley covered In flowers also forms a major attraction for nature lovers.
A small town established on the fertile land of Amman is Salt. This town is remnant of pure Arab culture and is filled with not only the character but the noises and aromas of an old Arab town characterized by its narrow souk. The uncountable flights of steps, the donkey carts and coffee houses add to the pure Arab touch.
Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is surrounded by Biblical Gadara- Umm Qais situated in the far north of the country. The ruins of Acropolis built in 218 BC, the forum, the colonnaded street with still-visible chariot tracks and the Nymphaeum and remains of a large basilica pose as a source of awe and amazement.
The King’s Highway is one of the three routes from Amman to Aqaba and is the most amazing of the three. Madaba and Mount Nebo hold much importance as they are said to be locations where Moses had struck the rock. These both were growing Byzantine towns and exhibits well-designed churches and mosaic that are unique in themselves. In addition to these, Madaba also preserves ancient maps of Palestine, of how it was centuries ago. Besides, a museum and an old family carpet making industry that utilizes ancient looms is also housed by the city.
Next to Madaba, you encounter Mukawir off the highway. Mukawir is a small village close to the ruins of Machaerus of Herod Antipas. This location holds another importance- this is where Salome gave her last fateful performance. To add to the list of important locations, Qasr al-Meshneque would be next. This is the spot where St. John was beheaded. At the same time it offers a wonderful view of the Dead Sea, some part of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Very close by, Zaqa Main sprouts with hot mineral water springs and rocky scenery serving as the distinguishing features of the area. Deep gorges, waterfalls, white rocks, small oases, birds and wild flowers also enhance the beauty of the region tremendously. Further south on the Highway is Kerak, a beautiful medieval town bordered by high walls and with a castle. Other places of historical, scenic or sacred interest along the route before Petra include Mazar and Mutah, Edomite Qasr Buseirah, Tafila and the outstanding crusader hill fortress, Shaubek Castle.
If you move to the east of Amman and head towards Azraq, a vast desert covers most area of Jordon. Surprisingly enough, amid this arid landscape prevail fertile oases of the Shaumari and Azraq. World Wide Fund for Nature now successfully support and run the initiative of maintaining these Wetland Parks. Their initiative also includes re-introducing the animals like oryx and gazelle that were once native to the region, along with migratory birds that pay visit to these wetlands every year. The opening ceremony of the Shaumari was conducted in October 1983 to celebrate the efforts of re-inhabiting the region with these native animals and birds. Such future plans include opening of 10 more wildlife reserves that encompass 4100 sq. km. Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature is aiming to organize such projects that further lead the efforts to safeguard these animals and prevent pollution that may have an adverse effect on the very busy port of Aqaba. To ensure and reinforce such plans, severe fines are to be imposed on disobedience of any such rules and regulations. Umayyad castles of Al-Kharanah and Amra in the east are built to serve the purpose of hunting lodges and ensure the safety of the caravan routes along with the preservance with frescoes and vaulted rooms.