Jordan is a wonderful country to visit. Everyone knows about Petra, and indeed many have it on their “bucket list” of things to do, but there are so many other delights that this country has to offer as well. As Jordan is such a small country it is possible to explore it all in a relatively short time and truly experience all it has to offer
So what are the Top 10 Things to See in Jordan?
We have all been to many Roman ruins and its easy for them to merge into one in your memory as a result, but Jerash will stand out forever as it is one of the best preserved provincial towns in the world. Infact Jerash is a Greco-Roman Ruin and there are ancient Greek inscriptions in the city which point to the foundation of the city being linked to Alexander the Great in 331 BC, when Alexander left Egypt, crossed Syria and then went to Mesopotamia. After the Roman conquest in 63 BC Jerash was annexed into the Roman province of Syria, and in AD 90 Jerash was absorbed into the Roman province of Arabia which included the city of Philadelphia (modern day Amman). The Romans ensured security and peace in this area, so that its people could devote their efforts and time to economic development with its associated civic building activity, which of course makes it such an interesting Ruin.
Wadi Rum gives you the opportunity to travel into the desert in Jordan's largest desert and one of the most spectacular desert landscapes in the world. It is hard not to be swept away with the romance and the history of Lawrence of Arabia who was based here in the second world war, and not to be in awe of the stunning landscape. For those more adventurous there are desert camps to stay in so you can enjoy sunset and sunrise, and of course all those wonderful stars at night. But be warned they may not be the most comfortable of camps , though certainly atmospheric. Camel Trecks and 4 WD Safaris are available for those who wish to experience the desert at close quarters.
Crusader Castles and Kings Highway
You can spend a day visiting another era with the Crusader Castles, and of course everyone will want to travel down the evocative Kings Highway , part of the original Silk Route where you will find Shoback Castle and Kerak Castle. Kerak Castle is an impressive 12th Century Crusader Castle with superb views, and offers the opportunity to explore 7 levels of vaulted passageways and dungeons. One of the most notorious figures of the time, Reynald of Chatillon, ruled Kerak from the early 1170s. He was infamous for his acts of barbarism, and one of the his favourite pastimes was throwing prisoners from the castle walls onto the rocks below.
Red Sea and Dead Sea
But not all your stay needs to be sightseeing. You have the beautiful waters of the Red Sea where you can relax, enjoy water sports galore, and snorkel and dive in some of the most colourful waters in the world teeming with fish and corral.
Whilst the Red Sea is full of life, the Dead Sea is the opposite with its high salt content and makes for a dramatic landscape and of course the ultimate newspaper read whilst bathing ! At 400m below sea level this sea lies at the lowest point on the planet ! The high salinity though is not linked to the sea level but rather due to the high evaporation level linked with low rainfall . Indeed due to reduction of the Jordan River flow due to human use the Dead Sea is actually shrinking. Luxury 5 star hotels with Spa treatments abound in this area due to the mineral contents.
Amman itself is worth a morning visit . It is considered by many to be the most westernised and liberal of Arab cities and in the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with the more traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans' workshops. However ancient ruins exist within this city with a Roman Amphitheatre and a citadel high up where the remains of Hercules Temple, Ummayad Palace and a Byzantine Church can be found.
There are almost too many sites to mention with St Johns Baptismal Church as well as Lots Pillars being the obvious ones. But there are more such as Mt. Nebo, one of the most revered holy sites in Jordan and known as the burial place of Moses and with a spectacular view of the holy land or indeed Mukawer, where St. John the Baptist was incarcerated after the fateful dance of Salome.
Gosh did we nearly forget to mention Petra ? – the highlight of any Jordan visit ! Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the Nabataean capital city it has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1985. The site remained unknown to the western world until 1812, when it was “found” by Swiss explorer Burckhardt, and was named amongst the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. As a result it has become increasingly popular and it’s always good to time carefully your arrival in order to have as much atmosphere as possible away from others. The Treasury is obviously what everyone knows about, if only from the Indiana Jones movie, but there is so much more to see with the numerous trails with breathtaking views , and lesser well known sites such as Little Petra where the Trading Caravans used to stop on the way into Petra or indeed the Monastery. Afterwards right at the exit to Petra don’t forget to stop at the oldest Cave Bar in the world. The walls of the Cave Bar are part of an ancient tomb carved by the Nabataeans and the cool evocative atmosphere and drink are most welcome !
The tenth suggestion is actually an amalgamation of places because there are so many more than just 10 !
Madaba- the city of Mosaics with the Greek Orthodox church of St. George where the famous 6th century Byzantine mosaic map of the holy sites in the biblical world is found.
Wadi Mujib with its stunning landscape and views
Um Qais, a city rich with basalt ruins including a mausoleum, colonnaded main street, basilica, theatre and all on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley, Golan Heights and Lake Tiberius
The towering Arab built castle of Ajlun Castle , which was never defeated by the European Crusaders, and has a wonderful maze of vaulted ceilings, secret passages and fairy-tale towers and battlements.
After over 10 years of offering private Jordan Holidays Weekend a La Carte have a range of carefully constructed itineraries that give you a personal insight into this spectacular country and can include as many of these “10” as you wish! A point of difference is that your private guide will stop at local villages and introduce you to current Jordanian culture and cuisine, as well as the more traditional wonderful sights of Jordan. You will travel with the luxury of a private chauffeur for the whole of your trip so you can go at your own pace. The breaks offered range from a long weekend break to a more extended visit of the country so there should be something for everyone.