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. Locals often take advantage of the green landscapes of Ajlun to take a break from city life and connect with nature.
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, betraying its strategic purpose as a military watch post that protected the trade routes in the 12th-15th centuries. It was first built in 1184 by one of Saladin’s generals, Izzeddin Usama Mungidh, to repel the Crusader threats to north Jordan (the Crusaders had already occupied south Jordan, from their massive castles at Showbak and Karak, and were driven out of TransJordan in 1188/1189). The Ajlun castle was expanded into its current configuration in 1214.
TAL MAR ELIAS
Associated with the Prophet Elijah, Tall Mar Elias is very close to the ruins of a village known as Listib. It is believed that this place was formerly Tishbi, the home of Elijah, a native of Gilias in Tranjordan (2 Kings 17: I). The fact that this is a religious site is substantiated by the two churches that were built on the Tall (hilltop) at the end of the Byzantine period
CHURCH OF OUR LADY IN THE MOUNTAIN
In Anjara, in the north of Jordan, there is the Our Lady of the Mountain Church – a rebuilt cave that is venerated as a place where Jesus and his mother Mary passed during their journeys between the Sea of Galilee. Anjara was designated by the Vatican as a Millenium 2000 pilgrimage site.
AJLOUN FOREST RESERVE
Ajloun Forest Reserve is located in the Ajloun highlands north of Amman and 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.
The Ajloun area has a long history of human settlement, due to its mild climate, dense forests, and fertile soil. This rich history is reflected in the many archaeological ruins scattered in the woodlands and surrounding villages. The reserve itself supports a wide variety of wild plants and animals and is a peaceful place to relax and enjoy nature. Among the more unusual animals to be found in the Reserve are the Striped Hyena, Crested Porcupine and Stone Marten. In spring, the reserve is a carpet of wild flowers, including drifts of anemones and rockroses.
The Royal Academy for Nature Conservation
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.
The Academy constructed nearby the Ajloun Forest Reserve. It will be physically linked with the Reserve and its tourism facilities to create a single integrated eco-tourism complex. This will enable the Academy to use these tourism facilities as real-life training situations. Some of the key facilities in the Academy are training rooms, Medical clinic, a small conference hall and a restaurant.
Due to its limestone nature, the majority of the caves in the North are made up of pressure ridges and water carved natural wells that have formed stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and sizes. Don‘t miss out on the opportunity to try caving in Birgish for a truly unforgettable experience!
Wadi Al Rayan and its Rashrash waterfall are one of the few canyons in the Kingdom with cold water in a forest setting. This distinctive variation allows for a vastly different experience from the main canyoning areas of the southern and central regions of the Kingdom.
Due to the rampant existence of limestone in the area, Sami’s Cliff offers a solid and clean range of climbing experiences with levels catering to beginners and professionals alike!