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Places In Jordan

Amman

The Capital of Jordan . A small area with a temperate temperature located in a strategically point, a city of unique blend between the old and new, that holding a long history record with a safe area that embrace a different cultures and nationalities.
Amman where you can find the old civilizations speaks to you in every stone of its old buildings with a modern economic touch that reflected in the works of young business people in the market, pioneers and the Multi National Cooperation that sees Amman as a central economic city for Jordan.
A city is built on a series of hills, In the downtown of Amman city (Heart of Amman) you must find some of the economic features that reflected the old occupations for the people of Amman, which is still held from years to the present day.
A small business producers, Jewelry shops and some shops to buy a unique gifts and souvenirs. The people of Amman are multi-cultural, with a vary demographical distribution, well-educated and extremely hospitable.

The Citadel

The Highest Hill in Amman located on a mountain, which towers above the city from a top Jabal al-Qala’a, is a good place to begin a tour of the city, there is something about places that have been inhabited for a long time that attracts a million of tourists to them.
The Citadel is considered as an important site because it has had a long history of occupation by many great civilizations. Many of the site buildings are still exist like the Temple and Hand of Hercules. This site have revealed numerous Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic remains it is one of the oldest continuously inhabit places in the world.
The Citadel it is not only gives visitors a perspective of the city’s incredible history, but also provides stunning views of the entire area.

Royal Automobile Museum

If you are a car addicted, love to discover some unique and historical cars or you really do not have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy this museum. The Royal Automobile was established in 2003 by King Abdullah’s wishes. It is one of the most interesting and well organized Museum in Jordan .The Perfect Place to show the creativity of the car industry whether in the old or modern style.
This Museum holding a rare collection of Jordan's vehicles ranging from Hussein bin Ali's cars that came to Amman in 1916 , to more than seventy classical cars and motorbikes from personal collection to the late King Hussein up to the most modern sport cars .

Roman Theatre

A famous and magnificent landmark in the heart of the capital city Amman. This magnificently restored theatre is the most obvious and impressive remnant of the Roman age.
The Theatre was built in the period 138-161 CE, which dates back to the reign of Roman emperor Antonius Pius.
The large and steeply raked structure could seat about 6,000 people, a special design was built into a hillside, it is located in the heart of the down town a short can drive you to the old (Souq) to buy some unique gifts .The theatre nowadays used as a venue for cultural activities it is open for visitors, and it hosts many local music and cultural events.

Jordan Museum

While you are walking into the heart of Amman, you should pass by Jordan Museum.
The storyteller of Jordan, a place that presenting the history and cultural heritage of Jordan in a series of beautifully designed galleries.
The Jordan Museum, located next to the City Hall and it was built in 2014.
It is the largest museum in Jordan and one of the best in the Middle East. Housed in a grand modern building it is a part of the ongoing story of Jordan’s past, present, and future. The Beauty of this museum that it is reflecting the story of the earth and man through the ages.

Madaba & Mount Nibo

Madaba is an ancient town in Jordan, southwest of the capital Amman just 30km from Amman, is a pleasant, relaxed, tolerant and easy-going. Best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, Madaba is home to the famous 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the mosaic is composed of two million pieces of colored stone. . It is one of the most memorable places in the Holy Land, you can easily walk around on foot, or ride a Taxi as this quite city has no traffic so it is the perfect place to escape from the busy cities.
Back to history it is believed that Madaba is the place where Moses was buried and the most revered holy site in Jordan. When atop this mountain, one can see as Moses did the vast panorama that encompasses the Jordan River Valley.

St George’s Church & Mosaic Map

The Madaba Map is a map of the Middle East. Part of it contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land.
The floor mosaic is located in the apse of the church of Saint George at Madaba, the Map depicts an area from Lebanon to the Nile Delta . It is not oriented northwards, like modern maps, but faces east towards the altar in such a fashion that the position of places on the map coincides with the actual compass directions. It is unique because it is one of the oldest well known geographic mosaic in the art history.

Madaba Archaeological Museum

Housed in several old Madaba residences, this museum features a 6th-century mosaic depicting a naked satyr; a saucy (and partly damaged) mosaic of Ariadne dancing with cymbals on her hands and feet; and a mosaic in the courtyard depicting two rams tied to a tree – a popular image recalling Abraham’s sacrifice. A small, dusty Folklore Museum is included in the admission price; it features jewellery, traditional costumes and a copy of the Mesha Stele.

The Moses Memorial Church

On top of Mt Nebo, this modest church, or more accurately basilica, was built around 4th-century foundations in 597 and has just undergone major reconstruction. It houses some of the best (and best presented) mosaics in Jordan, dating from around 530. The masterpiece is a hunting and herding scene interspersed with an assortment of African fauna, including a zebu (humped ox), lions, tigers, bears, boars, zebras, an ostrich on a leash and a camel-shaped giraffe.The church was abandoned by the 16th century and only relocated in the 20th century, using 4th- and 5th-century pilgrim travelogues. The Franciscans bought the site in 1932 and were responsible for excavating most of the ruins of the church and the monastery, as well as reconstructing much of the basilica.The church is part of a functioning monastery, off-limits to visitors. There's a small but fascinating museum presenting the history of the site.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Two millennia ago, the area opposite Jericho has been identified as the place where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, making it one of the focal Christian pilgrimage sites.

The area known as “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” has been discovered between the Jordan River and Tal Al-Kharrar (St. Elijah’s Hill). A cave was discovered where John was living when he baptized Jesus. It is from this hill that he ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire. Findings from the early 1st century AD confirm the site was inhabited during the lives of Jesus and John the Baptist.Here the remains of more than 20 Christian sites have been discovered, including several churches, a prayer hall, baptismal pools and a sophisticated water reticulation system. These date back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Excavations at Bethany Beyond the Jordan began only in 1996. Before then the area had been a minefield on the front line between Jordan and Israel, whose border is the Jordan River.

Mukawir

Within an hour’s drive from Madaba along the picturesque Kings’ Highway, is Mukawir (Machaerus), the hilltop stronghold of Herod the Great. Upon Herod’s death, his son Herod Antipas inherited the fortress and it is from here that he ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded after Salome’s fateful dance of the seven veils.

The 1st Century AD Roman-Jewish historian, Josephus, identifies the awe-inspiring site of Machaerus (modern-day Mukawir) as the palace/fort of Herod Antipas, who was the Roman-appointed ruler over the region during the life of Jesus Christ. Mukawir is also one of the designated pilgrimage sites for the year 2000. The top of Mount Mukawir overlooks a breathtaking view of the Dead Sea, especially at sunset. The summit can be reached after climbing a winding staircase up to the mountain.

Ma’in Hot Springs

Ma'in Hot Springs or Hammamat Ma'in (biblical Belemounta), 74 km (64 miles) south of Amman and 264 meters (866 feet) below sea level, is the thermal mineral hot springs and waterfalls, where Herod the Great was said to have bathed in its medicinal water, and where people have come for thermal treatments, or simply to enjoy a hot soak, since the days of Rome.

Thousands of visiting bathers come each year to enjoy the mineral-rich waters of these hyper-thermal waterfalls. These falls originate from winter rainfalls in the highland plains of Jordan and eventually feed the 109 hot and cold springs in the valley. This water is heated to temperatures of up to 63° Celsius by underground lava fissures as it makes its way through the valley before emptying into the Zarqa River.Situated in this exquisite spot is an excellent comprehensive Spa and Resort offering a wide variety of professional services including treatment for people with skin diseases, blood circulatory problems and bone, joints, back and muscular pains, mud wraps, hydro jet baths and showers, underwater massages and much more.

Jordan Valley

The Jordan Valley and the hills that surround it are well worth exploring for the scenery, archaeological sites in Pella and Umm Qais, and community-tourism projects in the latter, overlooking the Sea of Galilee in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The deep cleft of the Jordan Valley carries the River Jordan south from the Sea of Galilee (some 200m below sea level) to the Dead Sea (400m below). It’s a distance of only 104km as the crow flies, although the meandering river twists and writhes for more than three times that length. Set down in a deep gorge flanked by a desolate flood plain (the zor), the river is never visible from the main road, which runs through the ghor, or cultivable valley floor, well to the east. Flanked by 900m-high mountains on both sides and enjoying a swelteringly subtropical climate of low rainfall, high humidity and scorching temperatures, the valley, with its fertile alluvial soil, is perfect for agriculture on a large scale: this vast open-air greenhouse can produce crops up to two months ahead of elsewhere in the Middle East and can even stretch to three growing seasons annually.

The Dead Sea

Deep in the Jordan Valley and 55 km (34 miles) southeast of Amman, is the Dead Sea, one of the most spectacular natural and spiritual landscapes in the whole World. It is the lowest body of water on earth, the lowest point on earth's surface, and the World's richest source of natural salts, hiding wonderful treasures that accumulated throughout thousands of years.

The sunset touching distant hills with ribbons of fire across the waters of the Dead Sea brings a sense of unreality to culminate a day's visit to this region. It is normally as calm as a millpond, with barely a ripple disturbing its surface, but it can become turbulent. During most days, however, the water shimmers under a beating sun. Where rocks meet its lapping edges, they become snow-like, covered with a thick, gleaming white deposit that gives the area a strange and surreal sense.As its name evokes, the Dead Sea is devoid of life due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals which gives its waters the renowned curative powers, therapeutic qualities, and its buoyancy, recognized since the days of Herod the Great, more than 2000 years ago.
And because the salt content is four times that of most world's oceans, you can float in the Dead Sea without even trying, which makes swimming here a truly unique experience not to be missed: here is the only place in the world where you can recline on the water to read a newspaper

Shawbak

Just off the King's Highway 190 km (118 miles) south of Amman and less than an hour north of Petra stands an impressive castle as a lonely reminder of former Crusader glory dating from the same turbulent period as Al-Karak, crowning a cone of rock, which rises above a wild and rugged landscape dotted with a grand sweep of fruit trees below.

It is today known as Shobak, but to the Crusaders it was Mont Real (Crak de Montreal) or Mons Regalis, the Fortress of the Royal Mount. It was built in 1115 by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem to guard the road from Damascus to Egypt, and was the first of a string of similar strongholds in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.Salahuddin Al-Ayyoubi (Saladin) attacked it on several occasions, finally capturing it in 1189 (only 75 years after it was raised) when the Crusaders were losing their foothold throughout the Holy Land. Inscriptions by Saladin's proud successors appear on the castle wall. In 1260, it passed to the Mamluks whom restored it in the following century, adorning its walls and towers with Arabic inscriptions which testify to their work. Since then it has lain largely untouched, gradually falling into greater disrepair.

Karak

Karak sits 900m above sea level and lies inside the walls of the old city, Where consequently, several strategic 7th century battles took place: the battles of Mu’ta, Yarmouk and Tabaqet Fahl. Many of Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) venerable companions and military leaders were martyred and buried in Jordan, and their tombs and shrines today are important destinations for pious Muslims such as Al-Mazar Aj-Janubi, just 25 minutes south of Karak. Karak Castle is a dark maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways. More imposing than beautiful, the castle is nevertheless an impressive insight into the architectural military genius of the crusaders.

Karak Castle

It was the Crusaders who made Al-Karak (biblical Charach Mouba) famous. The fortress, located 124 km (77 miles) south of Amman, was built in 1142 by Payen le Bouteiller, lord of Montreal and of the province of Oultre Jourdain, on the remains of earlier citadels, which date back to Nabataean times. He made Al-Karak the new capital of the province, for it was superbly situated on the King's Highway, where it could control all traffic from north and south and grow rich by the imposition of road-tolls.The castle in itself is more imposing than beautiful, though it is all the more impressive as an example of the Crusaders' architectural military genius. Each stronghold was built to be a day's journey from its neighbor. All the inhabitants of the town could gather for protection within the citadel in times of danger - as they did in 1173 when the Zengid ruler Nureddin attacked the castle. His siege was unsuccessful, as were later attempts by Saladin in 1183 (when the marriage of the heir of Al-Karak was taking place inside, and Saladin chivalrously kept his siege-engines off the bridal tower), and again in 1184. It was not until the end of 1188, after a siege of more than a year, that Al-Karak finally surrendered to the Muslims.

Karak Archaeological Museum

The Karak Archaeological Museum was established inside the old castle, which has remains from the Moabite period in the first millennium BC, going through the Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods. The museum was opened in 1980.The main part of the museum is a large hall in a vault of the castle, used as living quarters for soldiers in the Mameluk period. The collections date from the Neolithic up to the late Islamic periods and come from the Karak and Tafila regions. Among the sites is Bab Adh-Dhra’, famous for its Bronze Age burials. The museum houses remains of skeletons and pottery from the Bab Adh-Dhra' graves; Iron Age II artefacts from Buseirah; Byzantine glass vessels and inscriptions, and Roman and Nabataean artefacts from Rabbah and Qasr.

Mazar Islamic Museum

A museum of ancient Islamic art in southern Jordan is believed to be the oldest Islamic historical landmark housing a variety of valuable items and works of art, according to its curator.
Opened in 1973 under the auspices of His late Majesty King Hussein, Mazar Museum, near the city of Karak, displays a whole collection of sculptures and carvings most of which date back to the second Mamluk period, 1250-1517.
The museum contains unique architectural pieces that had helped to document the history of various Islamic eras in the region, including the tombs of Muslim commanders who fell martyr in the battles of Mu'tah and Yarmouk which took place in southern and northern Jordan respectively.
Artifacts at the museum, built of limestone, cover a wide range of artifacts, including ceramics, coins, pottery, lanterns, swords as well as a copy of holy Quran inscribed on animal leather and a hand-written copy of the Muslim holy book dating back to 1269.
Depicting various facets of Islamic civilization and culture, the museum is a world heritage site at the center of attention of scholars, researchers and tourists from Jordan and across the world, said curator Ibrahim Sarayreh

Desert Castles

Jordan’s desert castles are beautiful examples of both early Islamic art and architecture. Their fine mosaics, frescoes, stone and stucco carvings and illustrations, inspired by the best in Persian and Graeco-Roman traditions, tell countless stories of life as it was during the 8th century. Quseir Amra, one of the best preserved monuments, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its interior walls and ceilings are covered with unique frescoes, and two of therooms are paved with colourful mosaics. The black basalt fort at Azraq was the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt and is still in use since Late Roman times.

Qasr Al-Hallabat

With a fair proportion of masonry still standing, some beautifully restored archways and a desolate perch on the edge of the Eastern Desert, this fort is a good introduction to the history of the region. Hallabat once boasted elaborate baths, intricate frescoes and mosaics, a mosque and several reservoirs, and served as a focus for a thriving farming community. Restoration of a substantial part of the site under Spanish direction has restored an inkling of the castle’s former stature.

Qasr Al-Tuba

Easily the most impressive of the lesser-known castles, Tuba lies approximately 75km southeast of Amman and captures the sense of a staging post on long-forgotten incense routes. Tuba was erected by Caliph Walid II in about AD 743 and abandoned following his sudden assassination. Tuba is only accessible by 4WD along dirt tracks 50km south of Hwy 40, or 35km west of the Desert Highway.The structure is unique for its sun-baked mud bricks and you can see an imposing doorway from the site at Amman’s National Archaeological Museum. The sole nesting place in Jordan of the rare Houbara bustard is at nearby Thalathwat.

Qasr Al-Kharraneh 

Like some other desert castles, this caravanserai was never fully completed. In fact, Qasr Kharana is built from the limestone rubble and mortar and Kharana is a small castle of only 35 square meters. You will find an arched passageway –which acts as an entrance to the castle. Qasr Kharana is flanked by two huge rooms on both the sides. These are believed to have been served as stable and storage rooms.When you will go inside, you will notice 61 rooms overlooking the central courtyard - most of them are arranged in suites of four or five communicating rooms surrounding a large hall. While going from the courtyard, there are two low - angled, long staircases leading up to the second store and the roof. Some of the rooms on the second floor of Qasr Kharana continue to maintain their ancient decorative stone - work, with colonnettes, rosette friezes, semi-domed ceilings, and age-old inscriptions. Moreover, Qasr Kharana building stands as an emblem of the both Syrian and Iraqi influences and one more interesting fact is that the second floor of the building still remains unfinished.

Jordan’s Nature Reserves

A solitary cattle egret stands motionless by the edge of the pool, a snowy-white exclamation mark against the sapphire blue of the water and the emerald greenery around its margins. The soft breeze that rustles through the reeds smells sweet and damp. Its whisper would be the only sound, were it not for the chorus of quacking, cooing and chirping provided by the ducks, doves and songbirds that live here or are merely passing by. Anywhere in the world, it would be something to be treasured; here, in Jordan's bleak Eastern Desert, it's a miracle.

Azraq Wetland Reserve

Azraq is a unique wetland, located in the heart of the arid Eastern Desert, which takes its name from the Arabic word for ‘blue’. A migratory stopover for birds from three continents, Azraq is becoming increasingly popular for bird-watching. From the walkways and hides, visitors get the chance to observe birds close at hand, including local, migratory and occasional rare species.Many interesting archaeological sites lie within easy reach of Azraq Lodge, including the famous but misnamed ‘desert castles’: Qasr Amra, Qasr Kharana and Azraq Castle. Qasr Amra is one of the best preserved Umayyad bath houses in the world and a World Heritage Site. Its interior walls are covered in lively frescos dating back to 700 AD.

Shawmari Wildlife Reserve

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve was established in 1975 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature as a breeding center for endangered or locally extinct wildlife. Today, following breeding programs with some of the world's leading wildlife parks and zoos, this small, 22-square-kilometre reserve is a thriving protected environment for some of the most rare species of animals in the Middle East. Oryx, ostriches, onagers (an Asian wild ass) and gazelles, which are depicted on many local 6th century Byzantine mosaics, are rebuilding their populations and reasserting their presence in this safe haven, protected from hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.

The Oryx and onagers can often be seen roaming freely in their large desert grassland enclosure, and gazelles can be observed in their own fenced areas. Shaumari's breeding enclosures provide a small "zoo" for visitors, making the reserve a popular spot for children and school outings.

Mujib Nature Reserve

The Mujib Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a spectacular array of scenery near the East coast of the Dead Sea. The reserve extends to the Karak and Madaba mountains to the north and south, reaching 900m above sea level in some places. This 1,300m variation in elevation, combined with the valley’s year-round water, means that Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent biodiversity that is still being explored and documented today.

Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve is composed of a chain of valleys and mountains that extend from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. The visitor to this area will be awed by the beauty of the Rummana mountain, the timeless serenity of Dana Village and the grandeur of the red and white sandstone cliffs of Wadi Dana, and the mystery of the ancient archaeological ruins of Feynan, where the stars shine brighter than any other place. You can stay in the eco-lodges to experience the wilderness, meet locals and explore the ancient history. Dana supports diverse wildlife that includes a variety of rare species of plants and animals.

Ajlun Nature Reserve

Established in 1987, Ajloun Forest Reserve covers an area of 13 km2 located in the Ajloun highlands north of Amman. It consists of Mediterranean-like hill country, ranging from 600 - 1100 m above sea level, with a series of small and medium winding valleys.

Ajloun forest was first proposed as a protected area in the 1978 survey. Its ecological importance is represented by the Evergreen Oak vegetation type, which is typical of the northern highlands of Jordan. As part of the Mediterranean bio-geographical region of the country, it is dominated by open woodlands that account for a significant part of Jordan’s forested area, which does not exceed 1% of the country’s entire land area.A wide variety of wild flowers thrive in Ajloun forest, including the Black Iris, several orchids and wild tulips, several of which can be found in CITES appendices. In 2000, Ajloun Forest Reserve was announced, by Birdlife International and RSCN, as an Important Bird Area in Jordan.

Dibeen Forest Reserve

Dibeen Forest Reserve is the latest nature reserve; it covers an area of 60 km2, of
pristine pin-oak habitat. The entire forest of Dibeen is spread over steep to very steep slopes of limestone or chalky limestone rock types. Filled with trees and always green, Dibeen is a wonderful site to visit all year round. There are some short marked (but unmapped) hiking trails through the park. In March and April carpets of red-crown anemones fill the meadows beneath the pine-forested and sometimes snow-capped hills. Most trails are either small vehicle tracks or stony paths, some of which continue beyond the park’s boundaries. The area is very popular with local picnickers on Fridays, and litter is a problem.

The park is only usefully accessed by car. Follow the signs from Jerash and expect to get lost! Keep heading for the obvious hillside woodland as you pass through nearby hamlets and you'll eventually stumble on the entrance.

Petra

A world wonder, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Jordan’s most valuable treasure, Petra is Jordan’s greatest tourist attraction. It is a vast and unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab civilization, who settled here more than 2000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India, and southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome.

The Nabataean Kingdom existed for centuries, and Petra became widely admired for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. Ultimately, however, the Roman Emperor Trajan annexed the Kingdom. By the 14th century, Petra was completely lost to the West, and so it remained for almost 300 years. Then in 1812, a Swiss traveller, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, persuaded his guide to take him to the site of the rumored lost city. Secretly making notes and sketches, he wrote: “It seems very probable that the ruins at Wadi Musa are those of the ancient Petra.”

Aqaba

Contrasting the rose-coloured desert to the North, the indigo-coloured deep water lies just off shore in Aqaba, offering kaleidoscopic marine life within easy reach, and an array of fish darting through the ocean.

Common species are branch coral, fungia, and montipora, and the rare archelia - a black, tree-like specimen found at great depths and first discovered by the late King Hussein himself.
There is snorkelling, fishing and sailing, or glass-bottomed boats for those who prefer to keep marine life at arm’s length. There is a Mameluk Fort (now known as Aqaba Fort) at the end of the corniche and, on an island in the middle of the Gulf, the castle of Saladin, foe of Richard the Lion heart and Reynald de Chatillon. In this century, Arab forces with T. E. Lawrence of Arabia, wrestled the port from the Ottomans in one of the most dramatic victories of the Arab Revolt.

Wadi Rum

T. E. Lawrence of Arabia and Sharif Faisal Bin Huessin based their headquarters in Wadi Rum during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans in World War I. It joined the UNESCO World Heritage Site List, under both the natural and cultural significance categories.

This area of Jordan is quite isolated and largely inhospitable to settled life. The only permanent inhabitants are several thousand Bedouin nomads and villagers. There is no real infrastructure, leaving the area quite unspoilt. Apart from the Bedouin goat hair tents, the only structures are a few concrete shops and houses and the fort headquarters of the Desert Patrol Corps. Wadi Rum is less a sandy desert but more a mountain desert. Very good pictures can also be made from the area north of the Turkish rail track parallel to the road from the Aqaba highway to Wadi Rum. The best time to visit Wadi Rum is when it is a little clouded, so you can experience the beautiful game of light and shadow in the desert. T E Lawrence (of Arabia) spent a significant amount of time here during the course of the British-inspired Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War (1914-1918). Fans of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia will be familiar with the landscape, which is not so much sand dunes as it is a mass of soaring cliffs and sandstone and granite mountains.

Umm Ar-Rasas

Most of this archaeological site, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town from the 5th century, has not been excavated. It contains remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD) and a fortified Roman military camp. The site also has 16 churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors. Particularly noteworthy is the mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen with its representation of towns in the region. Two square towers are probably the only remains of the practice, well known in this part of the world, of the stylites (ascetic monks who spent time in isolation atop a column or tower). Um er-Rasas is surrounded by, and dotted with, remains of ancient agricultural cultivation in an arid area.

Located south-east of Madaba on the edge of the semi-arid steppe, this archaeological site, which started as a Roman military camp and grew to become a town from the 5th century, is largely unexcavated. It comprises remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim periods (end of 3rd to 9th centuries AD) including a fortified Roman military camp and sixteen churches, some with well-preserved mosaic floors. Particularly noteworthy is the mosaic floor of the Church of St Stephen with its representation of towns in the region. A tall square tower and associated buildings are probably the only remains of the practice, well known in this part of the world, of the stylites (ascetic monks who spent time in isolation atop a column or tower). Um er-Rasas is surrounded by, and dotted, with remains of ancient agricultural cultivation, including terracing, water channels and cisterns.

Pella (Tabqit Fahl)

Magnificently set in a fold of the hills that rise from the Jordan Valley 96 km (60 miles) northwest of Amman, Pella; known in Arabic as Tabaqat Fahl; is one of the most ancient sites in Jordan and a favorite of archaeologists being exceptionally rich in antiquities. It is perfectly situated, for there is a spring here which issues into a small river and never runs dry. The tell itself seems to have been continuously occupied since Neolithic times for some flints from this period have been found there; and some recent finds 2 km north of the tell even date to Paleolithic times, around 100,000 years ago.

Pella is the place to put on your archaeology hat. There may be no triumphant temple remains or grand Roman roads here, but if you like history, Pella is one of Jordan's most important archaeological sites. Excavations here reveal a staggering 6,000 years of continuous settlement from the Neolithic age right up to the 14th century. The scattering of ruins strewn across the hilltop include a Canaanite temple, Umayyad residential houses, and a Byzantine church (built over an earlier Roman structure) which are fun to poke around in. The real joy of a visit here, though, is the lonely, windswept setting amid the hills, where you'll rarely encounter another visitor except maybe a shepherd grazing his sheep.

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