Built in 1220 AD during the Ayyubid era, this fortified watchtower was used to monitor the region for Crusader attacks. Although Amman was probably not populated then, or was at most a tiny village, it was still important to have a military presence in the area given the constant threat from the nearby Crusaders. In order to construct this rare example of Mediaeval military architecture in Amman - the sole surviving structure between the Omayyad and Ottoman periods - stones from pre-existing ruins were used. Some of these stones probably belonged to Omayyad structures, which were built using recycled Byzantine stones, which were reused from Roman temples, which in turn were built over Hellenistic or Semitic ruins.
This colonnaded street with original pavement lies within the Omayyad Palace complex in the Citadel. It connected the Entrance Hall with other parts of the complex. Only fragments of the columns have survived and are still positioned at their original location. It was unclear to me whether the colonnade was built entirely by the Omayyads or whether they simply restored a colonnaded street that had been in place since the Graeco-Roman period.
Occupying Jebel al-Qala'a, the highest of the seven hills, the Citadel dominates downtown Amman. The hill had been inhabited for thousands of years and remained of importance until the destructive earthquake of 749 AD. The walls protecting the Citadel were rebuilt and restored repeatedly, but trace their foundation to the earliest of times. The Citadel is the site of the ancient city of Rabbat Ammon, the Acropolis of Graeco-Roman Philadelphia, the seat of Christian bishops in the early Byzantine Empire, and the Omayyad Palace complex. When the city fell into decline after the earthquake of 749 AD, the Citadel was never rebuilt, except for a defensive watchtower by the Ayyubids to monitor Crusader activity. Today, the Citadel is one of Amman's most important historic sites and contains ruins of several structures dating from various periods, as well as the National Archaeological Museum. Cultural events are also frequently held within the Citadel.
Dating from the late 6th century AD, the Byzantine Basilica Church is located within the Citadel. It was destroyed along with the rest of the Citadel in the 749 AD earthquake and was never rebuilt. The nave of the Church contained a few Corinthian columns which were likely recycled from an earlier Roman temple. Some of these columns have been re-erected at their actual locations, while the semi-circular apse in the back has been partially reconstructed. Behind the church are some Byzantine-period ruins with surviving arches and walls.
We visited the Citadel in April 2009.
It's certainly an interesting place ----especially with a knowledgable guide/good guidebook. There is evidence of many civilizations here and as you wander through the ruins the views of the city are interesting.
This site is really open ----typical of most sites in the Middle East! There were no restrictions e.g. keep off the monuments, no entry, no photography.
We spent about 2 hours there amongst both local and international tourists. We did not feel that there were crowds or that this is a commercially developed site. No doubt the government will one day make it more touristy (like Petra) but that will be many years from now.
Would I return? Yes.
The Citadel is situated on Jebel al-Qal’a. Among the sights are the magnificent Umayyad palace complex and the Temple of Hercules.
The most impressive of the Umayyad palace is the domed entrance hall.
There are also great views of Amman from Citadel Hill.
Admission is 2 JD.
It is easy to walk down to the Downtown area from here, but best to take a short taxi ride to the top if you are in the Downtown area (about 500 Fills).
The Citadel sits on top of one of Ammans hills, unfortanely there isn't much to see up here, the views of Amman are worth the trip up here but not much else...3 JOD to enter, give your self about 30 minutes to walk around and see the entire complex.
The foundation of the fairly large mosque, which served the Omayyad Palace and its quarters, is discernible within the citadel. The structure, built in 720 AD opposite the Omayyad Palace, has only survived in ruins. It was a typical early-Islamic mosque with a spacious courtyard surrounded by colonnaded porticoes, similar to the early construction of the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus, or the Mosque of Amr ibn al-As in Old Cairo. The bases of the columns are visible, and a section of the mosque's northern wall has been reconstructed, showing similar carvings as the façade and interior of the entrance hall of the opposite Palace. The mosque was destroyed along with the rest of the citadel in the 749 AD earthquake.
Drive or take a cab to the upper part of the city to see the roman ruins at the Citadel and get a good view of the city. The small museum is worth a look too to see the roman artifacts on display. Small entrance charges apply.
Here you'll find the Umayyad Palace, which dates back to about AD 720. The most intact building here is the domed audience hall, nearby is the small Byzantine Basilica & the National Archaeological Museum.
South of the Basilica are the remaining pillars of the Temple of Hercules, from here you get a great view of the Downtown area.
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