We were groggy, disheveled and slightly jet-lagged after our late arrival from London. Our driver took one look at us slumped in the back seat on our way to our hotel in Amman, laughed, and blessedly suggested a late morning start for our trip to Jerash. It turned out to be good advice. We visited the ruins of Jerash on a warm, spring day when the hills surrounding the city provided a backdrop of bright sunshine, grazing sheep and a carpet of wildflowers.
Arch of Hadrian
Jerash, dubbed “Rome away from Rome” by the Jordanian Tourist Board, fascinated me. Americans consider something “old” when it exists for 100 or so years. The Europeans hold the standard for “old” at a respectable 300 or 400 years. Middle Eastern countries start to consider something “old” when it dates back 1000 or more years. Jerash certainly qualifies as ancient, even by Middle Eastern standards. The “city”, considered one of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins outside Italy, sits 45 minutes north of Amman on a site that contains evidence of human occupation dating back 6500 years.
Cardo Maximus, the colonnaded street
Ruts in the road made by Roman carts
Archeologists uncovered ruins exhibiting Greco-Roman, Mediterranean and Arab influences which suggested a long and complex history of Jerash.
One of two theaters in Jerash
Seat numbers in the amphitheater. These are the “expensive” seats.
Although Jerash (Gerasa) was an established and relatively prosperous city in the 3rd century BC, it came under Roman rule in 63 BC when conquered by the Roman General Pompey. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Jerash was subjected to various invading forces and destructive earthquakes, which left the city abandoned and in ruins.
Tea for sale at the Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
Mosaic floor of a Byzantine church
Oval Plaza, Jerash
These magnificent ruins lay buried under endless meters of sand for 800 years before rediscovery by Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806. Excavation didn’t begin in earnest until 1925 and continues to this day as archeologists and historians are uncertain about how much of the original city remains buried.
We had a spectacular day at Jerash, culminating with our standing at top of the amphitheater as the call to prayer rang out over the ruins. I don’t know if our guide actually planned this moment for us, but it was an unexpected ending to a spectacular day.
More ideas about visiting Jordan
A Day in the Desert
A Night in the Desert
Petra at Night
Things to Know:
We stayed at the Alqasr Metropole Hotel in Amman. The rooms were basic, but clean. I’m not sure if non-smoking rooms exist in the hotel, but you should check if that is a requirement. The breakfast and serving staff were excellent and the hotel has a number of popular and well-regarded restaurants.
Jerash is an easy trip by car and is located on a main road 30 miles north of Amman.
Wear good walking shoes and take a bottle of water for your visit. Our tour was approximately 3 1/2 hours long and involved extended periods of walking and standing in the direct sun.
Consider using one of the local guides. They are incredibly knowledgeable and charge a reasonable fee (negotiate before leaving the visitor’s center). To hire a local guide, purchase your tickets, walk through “souk”, up the hill and through Hadrian’s Gate to the small building across from the restaurant. Our Jerash guide was arranged through UTA travel prior to our arrival.
Any implication of good planning is a result of Clair’s work at Audley Travel and their on-the-ground partners in Amman, UTA travel.
Information about opening times, etc. can be found here.
If you can’t make it all the way to Jerash, one of the “Whispering Columns of Jerash” stands in Flushing Meadows, New York. King Hussein presented it as a gift from the Kingdom of Jordan for the World’s Fair in 1964.
Ir you have any questions about our stay in Amman or our day in Jerash, feel free to contact me!
subscribe for email notifications