Family Travel, History, Art & Culture, Holy Jordan

3 Days of History and Religion in Amman

April 25, 2023

Today, Jordan’s capital of Amman is a bustling and modern city but it is also home to wonderful ancient and spiritual places that offer visitors unique opportunities to explore and enjoy in three days.

1. Explore Amman’s Historic Downtown Area

Amman has had immense importance throughout history. It was previously called Philadelphia by the Greeks, who rebuilt it as one of the cities of the Decapolis League in the Roman Empire and prior to that, it was named Rabbath-Ammon when it was the capital of the ancient Ammonites. These former names of Amman are mentioned in various verses of the holy Bible. In the holy Bible, Samuel 10:6 mentions Ammon in the following statement: “Now when the sons of Ammon saw that they had become odious to David, the sons of Ammon sent and hired the Arameans of Beth-rehob and the Arameans of Zobah.”

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Today, the historic site of the Amman Citadel that is located on a hill in the capital’s downtown area is home to the remains and incredible creations of these past civilizations. At the site, visitors can explore ruins of the Temple of Hercules which was built by the Romans as well as buildings that formed part of the Umayyad Palace and ruins of a sixth century Byzantine church. There is also a Jordanian National Archaeological Museum that people can visit with a collection of artifacts from all over Jordan. Additionally, visitors can walk to the historic Roman Amphitheater, which is one of the most impressive structures that were built when Amman was part of the Decapolis League. The semicircular seating space that has three horizontal sections and can seat around 6,000 people is believed to have been built at the end of the 2nd century AD. Today, the theater is commonly used for performances, concerts, and events.

2. Visit Madaba

Only a 30-minute drive from Amman’s center city, Madaba is commonly referred to as the “city of mosaics” because it is home to some of the most beautiful and oldest existing Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. It specifically hosts the oldest surviving mosaic map of the Holy Land that was discovered in 1884. The map consists of millions of pieces of vivid and colorful stone, depicting hills, valleys, and villages of Jerusalem during the sixth-century. Madaba is also home to many historic churches that people can visit and experience a local mass at, including the Church of Saint George and the Church of the Virgin Mary. 

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3. Walk Around Jerash

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Jerash is home to incredible ruins and architecture that reveal human occupation dating back to more than 6,500 years. Only about 40km north of Amman, Jerash consists of stunning colonnaded streets, temples, theaters, and monuments that are certainly a must-see. Jerash was also part of the Decapolis League and formerly known as Gerasa, which is mentioned in Biblical references. Those visiting Jerash can also explore the Jerash Archaeological Museum which was established in 1923 and features discoveries from the Jerash region as well as collections that span the archaeological periods in the area, from the Neolithic up to the Mameluk period.

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Each year, Jerash hosts the Jerash Festival which showcases a wide array of singers, musical and folklore troupes, poetry readings, symphony orchestras, and art shows.  Performances occur in the different places throughout the ancient venue and thousands of visitors enjoy strolling through the streets and monuments of the city.


By Leen Hajjar
Leen Hajjar

Leen Hajjar, born and raised in Amman, is JTBNA's blog editor. A recent graduate from Villanova University with a master's degree in Communication, Leen focuses on media analysis, specifically mainstream media’s portrayal of Arabs and the Middle East. Her previous experience as a writer for Al Arabiya English, inspired stories that shed light on the diverse and positive attributes of the Arab world, aiming to provide a more comprehensive representation of the region and its people.

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