Tristan Davis (@tristans_expeditions) is a world-traveler, journey author and photographer. He’s at the moment learning a Masters in Worldwide Relations at NYU. He’s a vegetarian foodie, road meals aficionado, and lover of artwork, historical past and tradition.
Lately having explored the lesser-traveled Western Asia whereas learning Arabic, he’s put collectively a listing of his must-sees in case you’re going to the realm your self.
Exploring Northern Jordan: Amman, Madaba and Jerash
Identified to the traditional Greeks as ‘Philadelphia’, Amman, Jordan’s capital, is stuffed with historical ruins, and genuine markets. I spent a month in Amman learning Arabic final January, and ventured down from Jordan College into the Wasat Balad (Amman’s previous city middle) each probability I received.
Beneath are a few of my planning ideas, favourite spots, in addition to the very best websites in Amman, and day-trips inside an hour by public transit. The close by cities of Madaba and Jerash are to not be missed on a visit to Amman!
Planning your journey to Jordan
Earlier than going to Jordan, look into getting a ‘JordanPass’, an $80-100 go to all of Jordan’s main websites together with Petra. The JordanPass additionally eliminates the necessity for a Jordanian visa-on-arrival. The worth of Petra + visa charges alone is shut sufficient to the value of the Jordan Move that you could be as effectively get it, even in case you don’t have time to see every thing!
I’d extremely suggest staying within the previous metropolis at one of many hostels there, as many of the websites and museums are concentrated on this space. The nicer lodges and homestays are a little bit exterior of the previous city, however nonetheless shut sufficient. To get to the Wasat Balad from exterior of the previous city, you possibly can take a shared taxi for simply 50 cents.
Doves flying over Amman’s metropolis middle
Close to the oldest mosque within the metropolis, the grand Jama Hussein, Amman’s souk(market) is a real market expertise. That is the place to fill up on dried and contemporary fruit, particularly dates and figs! The contemporary plums and apricots are positively a number of the greatest I’d ever had, and there are additionally a lot of selfmade jams and preserves on the market which make nice presents and souvenirs.
The souk’s central location and cheap road meals make it a superb place to seize a snack. Be certain that to attempt the manaqish, a Levantine flatbread topped with olive oil and contemporary za’atar (thyme, sesame, and blended mountain herbs).
For one thing candy, attempt knafe, a candy gooey cheese with phyllo dough, rosewater syrup and diced pistachios. There are dozens of delicately-made Arab desserts, however knafe is likely one of the most iconic deserts from the Jordan-Palestine area.
Recent fruit and vegetable in Amman’s fundamental souk, close to Jama Hussein
The big variety of Palestinians, Yemenis, Syrians, and Somalis in Amman makes town a cultural melting pot, with all types of various handmade items, artwork, eating places, pastries, and folks from the Center East and Africa.
Along with the produce market, there’s a gold/jewellery souk, and a clothes souk as effectively. You should definitely cut price, as costs within the souk rely solely on what you’re prepared to pay. Generally, Jordan might be expensive, however the costs on the markets are the very best within the metropolis.
Amman Citadel and Roman Theatre
Amman’s two most notable historical websites are the Citadel and Roman Theatre, that are shut to one another, and close to the souk as effectively. Begin right here to get a basis of Amman’s historical past, and a view over town.
The Citadel is perched above town, on the very best of Amman’s seven hills.
The Temple of Hercules, Amman Citadel
Down under, the Roman Theatre and Nymphaeum (public bathtub and fountain) are additionally value a go to. The huge theatre seats 6000, proof that Philadelphia was a sizeable metropolis in its Roman heyday!
Rainbow Avenue (Shariya al-Rainbow)
This road and the encircling space is a costlier, expat and hipster space with cafes, file shops, picture galleries, and vintage bookshops. Hang around on Rainbow road lengthy sufficient and you might catch wind of an underground occasion, or pop-up craft market coming quickly.
Amman’s mosques are small compared to different main Islamic cities, nonetheless, they’re adorned with colourful tiles and bricks, surrounded by hillside gardens, and are positively value a go to. Whereas staying with my host household, we wearing conventional clothes and went to a unique mosque every Friday. Jordan was the primary Center-Japanese nation I visited on the time, and it was a very worthwhile studying expertise for me.
Atop Jebel al-Ashrafiya, the Abu Darwish mosque stands proudly in conventional striped brick. After I was on the Amman Citadel, I observed it within the distance and determined to go to it. Strolling up the hill from Jama Hussein, it took about an hour, however the views of town and the Citadel are unbelievable.
The surreal Abu Darwish mosque
On the high, I met some actually hospitable Jordanian guys who I spent the night with, ingesting espresso, smoking shisha, going to the mosque, and assembly their households. There aren’t often vacationers up right here, so issues are low-cost and the individuals are real. I extremely suggest visiting Abu Darwish not just for the mosque however for the views and interplay with the locals.
There are a number of different mosques value visiting, however Abu Darwish was my favourite by far. I’d additionally suggest the Blue Mosque, al-Hussein mosque, and Jama Hussein, all of which permit non-muslims in. (At Abu Darwish, you’ll have to enter with a Jordanian in case you’re a non-muslim. However in case you’re fascinated with going inside, most mosque-goers will you invite you.)
The Al-Hussein mosque at night time
Day journeys from Amman
Jerash (1 hour away by bus)
The traditional Greco-Roman metropolis of Gerasa is taken into account to be the best-preserved exterior of Italy and Greece. For my part, visiting Gerasa, Jerash’s previous metropolis, was an excellent higher expertise.
The previous Greco-Roman plaza: Think about it alive and filled with retailers and horse-drawn carts!
There have been only a few vacationers, so I spent a number of hours simply wandering across the plazas, amphitheaters, Hippodrome, and wine cellars. The Corinthian columns are so well-preserved, it’s surprising.
There are conventional Jordanian bands who additionally play reside exhibits in Gerasa, and some occasions a yr there are jousting matches. I did the dabke, a Levantine circle-dance, with some traditionally-clad employees whereas bagpipers performed some folks tunes… it was a variety of enjoyable.
One among many somehow-still-standing doorways in Gerasa
Madaba (1 hour away by bus)
Solely 1hr away from Amman by way of public transit, Madaba boasts Greek mosaic flooring maps and historic church buildings. I visited for simply someday, which was ample time to see the foremost websites earlier than heading again to Amman.
Church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist
The story goes that King Herod (son of Herod the Nice) promised his step-daughter/niece Salome that for her birthday, she may have something she needed. Herod had just lately married Herodias, Salome’s mom, who had beforehand been the spouse of his brother Herod II (the Romans weren’t so artistic with names).
Salome, beneath strain from her mom, Herodius, informed him that for her birthday, she needed the pinnacle of Saint John the Baptist. John had just lately been imprisoned for talking out towards their marriage, claiming Herod had stolen his brother’s spouse.
So, John the Baptist was beheaded.
View over Madaba from the tower of the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
Saint John is assumed to have vastly impressed and baptized Jesus, making him an essential determine in Christianity and Islam, and resulting in the constructing of the church within the late 1890’s. There are secret tunnels beneath the church, that friends are allowed to stroll by. I pulled up water from an historical underground effectively (Moabite period, roughly 3000 years previous) and the water was ice chilly and completely clear. There’s additionally a terrific view of the small metropolis from the highest of the tower!
A brief cab journey from Madaba will take you up the mountain to the nationwide park surrounding Mount Nebo. There’s a church which homes a mosaic exhibit on high of the mountain. Entry to the exhibit is included within the small entry price to the park.
Within the Bible, it’s mentioned that as Moses was main the Jewish individuals by the desert, he regarded over Mount Nebo, and there he noticed the Promised Land. On a transparent day, you possibly can even see the skyscrapers of Amman from Mount Nebo.
View of ‘The Promised Land’
Jordan is one other underrated however genuine and delightful nation to go to, wealthy in Biblical, Greek, Roman, and Arab historical past. Per week on this nation can be an ideal period of time to see all the main websites in Amman, Madaba, and Jerash, and likewise heading south, to spend a while within the desert. No journey is full with out visiting Wadi Rum and Petra!
Primary Arabic phrases (Jordanian Levantine dialect):
Good day (Peace): Salam
Good Morning: Sabbah el-khreer
Good Night: Messeh el-khreer
How are you?: Kayf ha-lek?
How are you? : Kayf ha-lek?
I’m effectively (Thank God): Hamdu lilleh
What’s new?: Shu Akbar?
What’s your identify? : Shu Ismek ?
My identify is: Ismi..
I’m misplaced: Ana die-e-aw
The place is the…?: Wayn el…
Rest room: hammam
Bus station: mahata el autobeese
I need : Bidi
What is that this? : Shu hathe?
How a lot? : Adesh hathe?
Sure (formal): nam
Please/Excuse me: lao samaht
Proper: yameen or shmael (to not be confused with shamael, which suggests North)
Straight: dugri, thugri, or el amem
Do you communicate English?(dialect) Biteki Englizia?
I’m a vegetarian: Ana nebehti
Taxi phrases and etiquette: Jordanian dialect
While you get into the cab: Salam alaikum
I’m going to (the) _____ : Bidi aru illeh (el)
Please [Use] the meter: el adad, lao samaht
Let me out right here(dialect): bidi enzel hone
Thank so much: ya tiki el afia (might God provide you with well being)
(Dialect tip: For teenagers: quantity + 10 (ithnosh =12 , hamztosh =15, and many others.) For 20-90, add the suffix -een)
20 ashreen (two tens)
Able to discover this magical Arabian wonderland? Whether or not you’re by yourself or with a buddy, a bunch tour to Jordan could possibly be the right reply – serving to you to tick off all of the highlights, with a educated information and a variety of useful inclusions!