DAY TRIP FROM AMMAN: JERASH
The ancient city of Jerash is only 45 minutes from Amman and a perfect place for a half-day trip from Jordan’s capital. It is a beautiful drive through verdant rolling hills and valleys filled with olive groves and pine forests.
Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. The town had enjoyed great wealth largely due to the area’s fertile lands and was one of the most cosmopolitan towns in the ancient Near East. After a devastating earthquake in 749AD large areas of the city were destroyed and the ruins were buried in soil for hundreds of years. Excavation and restoration work in the last seventy years has revealed the ancient town’s spectacular colonnaded streets, hilltop temples, theatres, squares and fountains.
WHAT TO SEE IN JERASH:
HADRIAN’S ARCH: The grand arch at the entrance was built in 129AD in honor of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Jerash. It is
HIPPODROME: Behind the arch is the hippodrome which hosted chariot races in front of 15,000 spectators. Recent excavations have uncovered the remains of stables and pottery workshops with mosaic floors nearby.
OVAL PLAZA: The impressive circular limestone plaza is lined with fifty-six Ionic columns.
COLONNADED STREET: The 800m (2,625ft) colonnaded street was the city’s main thoroughfare. The 500 columns that once lined the street were built to complement the facades of the buildings that stood behind them. Not all the columns have survived but the street is still an impressive sight.
TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS: Dedicated to the patron goddess of Jerash, the whole building was once clad in marble and decorated with elaborately carved Corinthian columns (11 still stand) and statues of Artemis.
AGORA: This was the city’s main food market.
NYMPHAEUM: Built about 191 AD, the ornate and elegant public fountain decorated with lion heads was dedicated to the water nymphs.
SOUTH THEATRE: The larger of the two theatres, it could seat up to 3,000 people. The site is still used for concerts and performances today. Stand in the middle of the stage and say something…the acoustics are amazing.
PLANNING FOR YOUR DAY TRIP TO JERASH
• Hire a driver in Amman. Expect to pay about 50-60JD (about $80) for a half-day trip.
• Entrance fee to the ruins is 12 JOD ($17).
• Get a tour guide at the entrance to Jerash (20 JD).
• Plan at least two hours at the site.
• A good place for lunch in Jerash: Green Valley Restaurant
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