Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley. In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans’ workshops. Amman’s neighborhoods are diverse and range in cultural and historical context from hustle and bustle of the downtown markets to the art galleries of Jabal Lweibdeh and the modern shopping district of Abdali.
A spectacular natural wonder Dead Sea, warm, soothing, super salty water itself – some ten times saltier than sea water, and rich in chloride salts of magnesium, sodium, potassium, bromine and several others. Incredibly buoyant and mineral-rich waters have attracted visitors since ancient times, including King Herod the Great and the beautiful Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra. All of whom have luxuriated in the Dead Sea’s rich, black, stimulating mud and floated effortlessly on their backs while soaking up the water’s healthy minerals along with the gently diffused rays of the sun.
The ancient city of Petra is one of Jordan’s national treasures and by far its best known tourist attraction. Petra is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is a UNESCO World Heritages Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Inhabited by the Nabateans, Edomites and Romans, Petra brought together the knowledge and skill of these civilizations to create this world wonder.
“The Valley of the Moon”, depicted as Mars in several Hollywood feature films Wadi Rum is an Arabian fairy-tale waiting to be discovered. Home to nomadic Bedouin tribes, Wadi Rum is a quiet getaway of stars, sand, and sun. Once inhabited by the Nabataeans of prehistoric times, Wadi Rum allows you to get lost in large landscapes and horizon lines. The calmness of the desert is sure calm your spirit and de-clutter your thoughts. Enjoy 4×4 jeep tour that will have you traversing sand dunes and breathing in the desert winds at high speeds, as you gasp at Wadi Rums amazing rock formations.
Situated on the southern tip of Jordan, Red Sea Aqaba is a beach town with Jordanian appeal. Equipped with the local watering holes, to water sports, and a historical flair for those looking to revisit the past. The worlds first underwater military museum just off the shores of Red Sea Aqaba. A total of 19 pieces of hardware all in “battle formation” and includes tanks of different sizes, an ambulance, a military crane, a troop carrier, anti aircraft guns and a combat helicopter. Due to Aqaba’s ideal water temperatures and shallow waters, it is one of the world’s premier locations for diving with multiple dive sites.
Jerash is an amazing blend of Greco-Roman and Oriental influences. A great place to visit during the spring with its beautiful rolling hills and lush greenery, it has a rhythm not seen anywhere else in Jordan. Jerash is on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan is the ancient city of Jerash, which boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. Jerash lies on a plain surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins. Conquered by General Pompey in 63 BC, it came under Roman rule and was one of the ten great Roman cities of the Decapolis League.
Site of the famous miracle of the Gadarene swine, Gadara was renowned in its time as a cultural centre. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of a rhetorical school in Rome, and was once called “a new Athens” by a poet.
Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Gadara is known today as Umm Qays, and boasts an impressive colonnaded street, a vaulted terrace, and the ruins of two theatres. You can take in the sights and then dine on the terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view.
Established in 2010 by the RSCN and located on the hills surrounding Umm Qais, Yarmouk Forest Reserve is a protected area known for its deciduous oak trees, the national tree of Jordan. It is landscape provides a rich diversity of habitats for countless plants and animals. Over 16 species of large mammals, including the Caracal and Mountain Gazelle, have been recorded and the Yarmouk River even boasts one species of endemic Tilapia fish. it is home to 14% of all of Jordan’s birds, making it an Important Bird Area and prime corridor for global migration.
Jordan’s Decapolis city of Pella, part of modern Tabaqat Fahl, is located overlooking the Jordan Valley. Continuously occupied since the Neolithic period around 6500 BC, Pella enjoys one of the longest pre-classical histories of any site in Jordan.
By walking around Pella’s extensive ruines – the 400 m long Khirbet Fahl, the large Tell al Husn to the south and the fertile Wadi Jirm between them – the visitors can experience fascinating glimpses of many of Jordan’s key historical periods. It is a site which offers something to discover for everyone’s interests.
The marvels of nature and the genius of medieval Arab military architecture have given northern Jordan two of the most important ecological and historical attractions in the Middle East: the sprawling pine forests of the Ajlun-Dibbine area, and the towering Ayyubid castle at Ajlun, which helped to defeat the Crusaders eight centuries ago, Ajlun Castle, more formally known as Qal’at Ar-Rabad, towers above the green hills of Ajloun and can be seen from many miles away. Locals often take advantage of the green landscapes of Ajlun to take a break from city life and connect with nature.
Ajloun Forest Reserve covers 13 square kilometers. It is dominated by open woodlands of Evergreen Oak, Pine, Carob, Wild Pistachio and Wild Strawberry trees. These trees have been important to local people for their wood, scenic beauty, and quite often for medicine and food. His Majesty King Abdullah II laid the foundation stone of a specialized Academy for training on the protection of nature and sustainable development near Ajloun Forest Reserve in 2010, and HRH Crown Prince Hussein inaugurated in 2015. The academy is “the first center in the Arab world” specialized in offering training on nature conservation.
Rising out of Jordan’s northern basalt plain, beautiful Umm al-Jimal is an ancient archaeological site, home to almost 2000 years of fascinating history and culture – Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Mamluk, Ottoman and Modern. It was a thriving agricultural center and a stop on the Hijaz to Damascus caravan route. One can explore over 150 well preserved ancient structures, built in neighborhoods along meandering alleys and around hosh-like plazas. Your visit to this town will enrich your archaeological experience with a still living Bedouin cultural heritage.
As-Salt is a thriving city situated North West of the capital Amman. Built on three main mountains (the cadital, gadaa and salalem), surrounded by the city square, it is enclosed by breathtaking views and is a wonderful contrast to some of the westernized sites of Amman. Comfortably perched atop of mountains, As-Salt maintains an authentic society based on affection, brotherhood, and love. The mountainside city also has significant historical relevance, most notably, as the regional capital of the Ottoman Empire. As-Salt homes are being considered for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Jordan’s desert castles, beautiful examples of both early Islamic art and architecture, stand testament to a fascinating era in the country’s rich history. Their fine mosaics, frescoes, stone and stucco carvings and illustrations, inspired by the best in Persian and Graeco-Roman traditions, tell countless stories of the life as it was during the 8th century. Called castles because of their imposing stature, the desert complexes actually served various purposes as caravan stations, agriculture and trade centres, resort pavilions and outposts that helped distant rulers forge ties with local Bedouins.
Shaumari Wildlife Reserve was established in 1975 by the RSCN as a breeding center for endangered. Today, 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.
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. The Azraq area also has a rich cultural history. The local people are also unusually diverse, coming from three different ethnic origins, Bedouin, Chechen and Druze; each of which has distinctive beliefs and traditions.
Madaba is a combination of rural home life and a hot spot for religious tourism. Known as the “City of Mosaics” Madaba is the cultural epicenter for Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. Just a short distance from the capitol visitors are just a stone’s throw away from the holy monuments of religious iconography. In or around 562 AD.The oldest and most famous floor, the Mosaic Map, was discovered in 1884 in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. It was originally laid in 560 AD. Centering on Jerusalem, the map portrays the region with accuracy and humor. Only one-third of the map has survived.
Mount Nebo is most known for being the site where Moses overlooked the Holy Land but did not enter it and where a church and a monastery were built to honor him. In the fourth century three domed buildings were erected in the place of the current altar. The place used to have a hidden passage which contained graves decorated with mosaics. On both sides of the place there were two small churches for performing the burial prayers. The baptistery, which is in the northern section of the site, is decorated with mosaics, while the floor of the southern section is decorated with a large cross.
The Baptism Site – Bethany beyond the Jordan – Al-Maghtas. Home to several biblical cities including Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar, the archaeological discoveries between the Jordan River and Tal al-Kharrar have identified this area as Biblical “Bethany Beyond the Jordan.” The area is where John was living when he baptized Jesus. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Baptism Site commission welcomes pilgrims from all around the world seeking spiritual connection to biblical times, a glimpse of history or a chance to be baptized where Jesus was so many years ago.
The 1st century AD Roman-Jewish historian Josephus identified the awe-inspiring site of Machaerus as the palace-fortress of Herod Antipas, the Roman-appointed regional ruler during the life of Jesus Christ. It was here, at this hilltop fortified palace overlooking the Dead Sea region and the distant hills of Palestine and Israel that Herod imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist. On a clear night you can easily make out the lights of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Ariha (Jericho). Far removed from the tourist circuit, the quiet of this area transports you back into Biblical times.
Ma’in Hot Springs located 264m below sea level in one of the most breathtaking desert oases in the world.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. The hot springs are heated by hot water that comes from the top of the basaltic mountain.
Whether you approach Karak from the ancient Kings Highway to the east or from the Dead Sea to the west, the striking silhouette of this fortified town and castle will instantly make you understand why the fates of kings and nations were decided here for millennia. An ancient Crusader stronghold, Karak sits 900m above sea level and lies inside the walls of the old city. The city today is home to around 170,000 people and continues to boast a number of restored 19th century Ottoman buildings, restaurants, places to stay, and the like. But it is undoubtedly Karak Castle that dominates.
Dana is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering some 320 square kilometers of spectacular mountains and Wadis along the face of the Great Rift Valley. From scorching sand dunes in the west to cool mountaintops in the east, the reserve is home to a great variety of wildlife. There are plants and animals characteristic of true desert, of Mediterranean forests and of the dry plains of Russia. In fact, Dana is really a melting pot of species from three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. Such a combination of natural communities in a single area is unique in Jordan and many of Dana’s animals and plants are very rare.
Perched in a wild, remote landscape, Shobak Castle wins over even the most castle-weary visitor. It’s especially imposing when seen from a distance, as it sits on a dramatic hill (formerly called Mons Realis, or the Royal Mountain), imposing its might on the surrounding countryside. Shobak was built by the Crusader king Baldwin I in 1115. Its defenders withstood numerous attacks from the armies of Saladin (Salah ad Din) before succumbing in 1189 (a year after Karak), after an 18-month siege. It was later occupied in the 14th century by the Mamluks, who built over many of the Crusader buildings.