Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, JordanJordan, throughout history was a crossroad between east and west. Ancient roads through the desert connected civilizations like the Greeks, Nabataeans, Romans and more recent states like the Umayyads and the Ottomans.

Read the main article about Jordan in general and the capital Amman here.

An hour's drive from Amman, Jordan, you will find this well preserved ancient city right in the middle of its modern counterpart. Jerash was originally established by Alexander the Great around 331 BC as Gerasa and later annexed to the Roman Empire. Around  AD 129 the Roman emperor Hadrian visited Jerash and the famous triumphal arch (or Arch of Hadrian) was built to celebrate his visit.

Read more about Jerash history here.

Jerash, JordanAfter you pass through the entrance plaza the Arch is the most prominent feature you will notice. It is imposing and mostly intact. 

As you walk in and to the left, you will come across the circus (Hippodrome). This is where the Romans held their chariot and horse racing tournaments. The Jerash Heritage Company holds daily ticketed performances of the Roman Army and Chariot Experience at the Hippodrome. Check Visit Jordan website for more details.

Further down you will see one of the southern amphitheaters and Zeus Temple. At the theater, you can enjoy some music and drum beats by a Bedouin band and you can explore the steep steps and various passages. From the top steps, you will have a commanding view of the whole ancient city.

Jerash, JordanOne of the most striking features of this ancient city is the large Oval Forum surrounded by a colonnade - a long circular sequence of columns. Another important feature is the main street (Cardo) lined with another long colonnade. This street runs through most of ancient Jerash.

Along the main street, you will see other important ruins like the Agora; several churches; an Umayyad mosque and the Archaeological Museum. Don’t miss the museum. It has a very nice collection of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad artifacts. It even includes ancient theater tickets made out of pottery.

Towards the north end of the city, you can visit Two baths; more churches; another Amphitheater and the temple of Artemis.

Jerash, JordanOn the way back you can stop at the souvenir shops at the entrance plaza. If you are hungry, stop at "Jerash Resthouse" restaurant which is right at the entrance of the ancient city.

The food is very good and the location is convenient. They have an area for Bedouin style seating. The prices are more expensive than average due to the location. You should ask for the traditional "Mansaf" dish which is a Lamb and Rice dish with a very flavorful yogurt sauce.

Close to the ancient city, many shops sell Jerash's famous goat cheese. Make sure to stop and sample some of the best cheese in Jordan.

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