HomeRoad TripsDiscover Amman: the highlights of Jordan's capital

Discover Amman: the highlights of Jordan’s capital

If you look at the city from Citadel Hill, you will see a seemingly endless, bright sea of ​​houses stretching to the horizon on the hills of the Amman metropolis. A bit of green flashes occasionally among the urban canyons, and a huge Jordanian flag flutters lazily above everything.

It’s hard to imagine that a century ago Amman was still a backward Bedouin village with just under 2,000 inhabitants.

Amman is a metropolis of millions

The city’s recovery began late, long after King Abdullah I made Amman the capital and the young kingdom became independent from the British protectorate in 1946. After the founding of Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians arrived in Jordan with first wave of refugees.

Other flows of refugees followed. Large immigration and high birth rates led to enormous population growth. While around half a million people lived in Jordan in the 1950s, today there are around eleven million.

There is a lot to do downtown

The capital of the Hashemite Kingdom appears equally young and dynamic, for example in the centre, in the lively King Faisal shopping street, at the foot of the Citadel Hill, where fashion shops, street vendors and cafes line up.

For lunch you meet at the simple Hashem restaurant for hummus and falafel, and for dessert you head to the Habibah bakery for a piece of warm kunafeh. The sweet specialty of angel hair with cheese and syrup is served on plastic plates and eaten standing around the small bakery: very simple and no-frills, but delicious.

Ancient buildings are integrated into life

King Faisal Street continues towards Souk Sukkar, the lively fruit and vegetable market next to the ancient nymphaeum. “Until the 1980s the Roman nymphaeum was still used as a market,” says tour guide Ayman Tadros, pointing to the now fenced-off fountain complex. Monument protection did not play an important role. The available infrastructure was used pragmatically.

The theater as a bus station

Amman residents had a similarly practical approach to the Roman theater, which is just a short walk away. “50 years ago the bottom rows were buried in sand. There were people sitting in the top rows waiting for the bus,” the 60-year-old recalls of when the theater still served as a train station.

Today the bus station is further east and the theater hosts performances again. The well-preserved structure once provided space for around 6,000 people. From the theater you have a direct view of the citadel hill.

The heart of the castle hill is the Temple of Hercules, of which some pillars have been reconstructed. Touching is also permitted here and visitors eagerly climb onto the old foundations. In addition to the temple, the Umayyad Palace occupies a large area on the hill.

The 8th century Arab complex, largely in ruins, is partly built on ancient Roman and Byzantine structures which testify to the long use of the area.

Party life on Rainbow Street

But Amman is not just its thousand-year history. Rainbow Street represents the party life of the city. “There is a lot to do here, especially in summer,” assures Hania Dadoa, a young Syrian who has lived in Amman for nine years. The 29-year-old pharmacist relaxes on a hookah and enjoys the afternoon sun in one of the bars.

Right now the holiday mile still seems pretty sleepy. The Syrian assures that it is not a problem for a woman to travel alone in this area. She wears loose hair and western clothes. Amman seems liberal. “Most women are free to decide whether to veil themselves or not,” confirms Maria Haddad, who has run the Beit Sitti cooking school in Amman since 2010.

Culinary culture in cooking school

He inherited his passion for cooking from his grandmother, from whom he also took over the management of the house. In honor of him it is called Beit Sitti, which means grandmother’s house. At first, Maria Haddad wanted to pass on her grandmother’s recipes. She now employs seven women, some of whom have Iraqi, Lebanese or Syrian roots, and she offers them a platform to contribute their own ideas. The 37-year-old chef says it’s important to her to support women in their independence and help them earn an income, while aubergines are roasted on an open fire.

Make a dressing with tahini, lemon and garlic and tell culinary students that this is the basis of many Jordanian dishes. “If you add chickpeas you get hummus, if you add roasted aubergines it becomes mutabal or baba ghanoush.” The result is delicious.

For a trip on the Handes route

Jordan is as diverse in terms of cuisine as it is in terms of landscape and culture. The best way to experience the country is to cross Jordan from north to south along the ancient King’s Highway. The ancient trade route already existed in ancient times and there are numerous attractions along the route.

Impressive sights such as the Roman city of Jerash, the Crusader fortress of Kerak and the cave city of Petra are located on the approximately 400 kilometer long highway (R35) between Irbid in the north and Aqaba in the south. The winding road winds mostly single lane through the hilly landscape, which north of Amman appears very Mediterranean with olive groves and citrus plantations. South of Amman the climate becomes drier and more desert-like with every kilometre.

The rock city Petra is the main attraction

And in the middle of the sparsely populated landscape between arid mountains lies Wadi Musa with Jordan’s main attraction: Petra, the rock-hewn capital of the Nabataeans. Visitors approach Petra’s most impressive site, the so-called Pharaoh’s Treasury, through the kilometre-long gorge, called the Siq, made up of rocks up to 90 meters high and only two meters wide in the narrowest parts.

Through the narrow gorge to the treasure

The winding path through the narrow Siq with the sandstone rocks glowing red in the sunlight is a natural sight. Then suddenly a part of the 40 meter high façade of the Treasury appears. The square widens and allows a glimpse of all the splendor of the two-storey complex. In the niches between the Corinthian columns you can see ancient images of deities.

There are many indications that the treasure is a majestic mausoleum. Nearby there are other rock tombs, royal tombs and simple cave burials. People lived in the caves, and some Bedouins who sell souvenirs to tourists say they still live there. Officially, no one can stay overnight in the UNESCO World Heritage Site anymore. Only the stars know what really happens.

Special magic at night

And they shine brightly on “Petra by Night”. During this evening event, the path through the Siq is atmospherically lit with candles. As in a procession, people head towards the Treasury, which glows romantically in the candlelight. In the semi-darkness we sit on folding chairs, are served sweet tea and listen to the Bedouins playing the flute and singing.

Anyone who gets involved will clearly feel the natural magic of this place. The facade is then flooded with colored light and shines in blue, red and purple. It’s not an impressive sight, but this place doesn’t need that either, because it exudes a quiet majesty like very few places in the world. You can understand the Bedouins who don’t want to leave here. Petra also makes our eyes light up.

Tips for your trip to Jordan

Getting there: Every day there are direct flights from Frankfurt am Main to Amman, for example with the airline Jordanian royal.

Registration: A visa is required for entry, which must be obtained in advance from the Jordanian Embassy required or issued upon arrival at Amman International Airport. Cost: approximately 53 euros.

Best time to travel: Spring and autumn are the best times to travel Jordan suited. In winter, rain and cold are expected in some regions. It can be hot in summer. The region around Aqaba on the Red Sea and the desert are areas with little rainfall.

Accommodations: There are many good hotels in Amman. We recommend the Four Seasons Amman Hotel (5th Circle, Al-Kindi Street) and, for a visit to Petra, the Petra Marriott Hotel (Queen Rania Al Abdallah Street, Wadi Mousa).

Eat: A cooking class at Beit Sitti (Jabal Al Lweibdeh, 16 Muhammad Ali As-Saadi Street, Amman) offers a good insight into Jordanian cuisine. Make sure you book in advance! Cost per person: approximately 40 euros.

Jordan Pass: THE Jordan Pass it is an online ticket that offers numerous discounts, such as free or reduced entry to 40 attractions. There are also no visa fees. It is worth it for anyone who wants to visit Petra. The pass is available starting from around 92 euros.

Holidays and Ramadan: Jordan is a Muslim country. Friday is the official holiday. Public buildings and many shops are closed or have reduced opening hours. During Ramadan alcohol is only sold in larger hotels. Eating, drinking and smoking in public are not welcome.

Money: The local currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). Money can be exchanged in banks, exchange offices and hotels. 1 JOD currently corresponds to approximately 1.30 euros. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and larger shops. Smaller shops and markets prefer cash.

Source: Reisereporter



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