When travelling north on the Dead Sea Coast Highway, at coordinates 31°25'50.23"N; 35°33'48.63"E, you can see an unusual rock formation. Legend has it, that this is the wife of Lot, who looked back on Sodom and Gomorrah and was turned to stone for defying God's orders. Whether you believe the story or not, it is still an unusual rock formation on the whitewashed dead sea coast.
There is a convenient widening in the road, that can be used as a parking spot to see The Wife of Lot.
It's not really off the beaten path, because it's featured prominently in Lonely Planet, but the Dana Nature Reserve is pretty cool. The problem is that it's really sleepy there, and if you are a solo traveler it's not obvious whatsoever where are the featured hiking trails that LP mentions. There is a person at the visitor center, but when I was there he was constantly on the phone, and couldn't really recommend what I should do with limited time.
If you are on limited time you might want to just start from Dana village and hike down into the canyon a ways. You are quickly 'away from it all' and it's very peaceful.
Ajlun is a small town 73 km north of Amman and 25 km west of Jerash (so Ajlun and Jerash can both be visited in the same day).Tourists come here mainly to see the castle.
On a hilltop 2,5 km outside the town, on a hilltop, stands the beautiful castle Qala'at ar-Rabad.
It was built in 1184 - 1185 by Izz al-Din Usama, general and nephew of Salah al-Din. The castle was built to protect the caravans passing the area and to deter the Crusaders.
In 1214 the castle was enlarged. A fifth tower was added and a bridge decorated with pigeons (those can still be seen) built. Invading Mongols destroyed the castle in 1260, but it was soon recaptured by the Mamluks who restored it. It is very nice to walk around the labyrinth of rooms exploring, and then take a rest at the top of one of the towers, with a great view over the valley.
Azraq Wetland Reserve contains a large mudflat, pools and marshlands just in the middle of the Eastern Desert of Jordan. The wetland has suffered big ecological damage as water levels decreased when more and more drinking water was pumped to Amman. Now the wetlands, or at least a part of the original wetland, is being restored.
This is a place where you can see lots of birds when they are migrating between Africa and Europe. There are also water buffalos. Well, we didn’t see any water buffalos while we were there and not many birds either, but then we were not there in the right season. Visiting a day in July, when water levels are low and the sun hot you can’t expect to see much, but it is a nice feeling walking around and see the blue and green, knowing it is desert around.
We started our visit at the Visitor Centre where you buy the tickets. At the Visitor Centre there is a nature shop with gifts made locally. From the Visitor Centre it is easy to walk around on the wooden trail.
Qasr Azraq is built in black basalt and was originally constructed by the Romans (about 300 AD). Through the years it was then renovated several times. During the Umayyad period it was used by al-Walid II as a military base and for hunting. In 1917 TE Lawrence and Sherif Hussain bin Ali based themselves at Qasr Azraq for a few months during the Arab revolt against the Turks. Already then it was in ruins, but in an earthquake 1927 it collapsed even more.
As you enter through the main entrance you will have Lawrence’s Room above you. There is a big courtyard where there is a mosque from the Ayyubid Period. Around in the castle are ruins of towers, a prison, a kitchen, a stall etc.
In July 2005 there was no entrance fee to visit the castle.
Qasr Azraq is one of the Desert Castles east of Amman. Azrak is an oasis and town 103 km from Amman.
A turkish bath after a full day journey around Petra is a good way of relaxing and removing some back-ache or feet-ache that you might have after walking around for 10 hours. We took a bath at Silk Road's Hotel, which is 100 metres up the Mövenpick hotel, in the same street. The bath wasn't the best I've ever been to, but still was quite ok. Some steam, some exfoliant soap, a massage and a tea. There are different areas for men and women. The price: 15 dinars.
Since the new highway was built to go from north to south, not many people use the King's Highway. We were advised to take it as it passes through some amazing landscapes and depicts a good picture of the variety of landscape the country has to offer.
Khirbet al Mukhayat is roughly between Madaba and Mount Nebo on a side road; it was originally the village near to the large Byzantine monastery of which the present Mount Nebo church is part of the basilica
There are several churches, mostly pretty ruined. There is a beautiful mosaic in the "Martyrs' Church" of Saints Lot and Procupius but there are also 2 specatcular mosaics in Preacher John's church which are less well known
One of the mosaics was placed above the other one which was completely covered and unknown until the newer one was removed for restoring. The figures on the older mosaic have thus escaped the iconoclasts. These mosaics are very attractive.
To get there you would need to take a taxi or hitch from the main road. The road to Khirbet al Mukhayat turns to the left a couple of kilometers from Madaba when going towards Mount Nebo. It's not very far.
Posted by Lulu
More land has been opened to archaeologists at Um Ar Rasas and 1' churches have been discovered from the great mosaic period - all of them with magnificent floors. You can't see very much at the moment, these churches are just heaps of stones, but Father Piccirillo of the Franciscan Instititute at Madaba has succeeded in obtaining funds from the Vatican to restore all of them. It is hoped that these churches, which were all destroyed in a major earthquake, escaped the attentions of the "iconoclasts" and that the mosaics will not have been attacked before the destruction of the earthquake.
Pella, in the north of the Jordan Valley, is a particularly rich archaeological site. From the first settlement - Chalcolithic (4000BC) - man has left his mark here through the Bronze and Iron Ages followed by Greeks, Romans and Byzantines and on into the more recent early Islamic period. While there are no great ruins, there is evidence everywhere of these settlements, but even if you only come for the view and a brief stop at the resthouse, Pella will reward you with its serene beauty and quiet tranquility.
Another detour off the King's Highway will bring you to the isolated Byzantine religious complex at Umm-ar-Resas - the most important section of which is housed nowadays in an ugly yellow hangar. Inside, however, are splendid mosaics in amazingly good condition. In the largest of these, scenes of rural and river life are framed by images of the cities of the the West and East banks of the River Jordan, many of whose names are still in use today - Jerusalem, Nablus, Gaza, Madaba, while others, such as modern Kerak and Amman are identifiable by their Roman-era names, Charach Mouba and Philadelphia.
Posted by leyle
Continue down the road from the Bani Hamida shop and, rising up in front of you, you will see the strange flat-topped mound of Mukawir, site of Herod the Great's palace of Machaerus, where Salome danced and claimed the head of John the Baptist as her price. Virtually nothing remains to be seen of the palace and the climb to the top is a stiff one, but the views of the Dead Sea and the surrounding countryside are spectacular and the still quiet of the place has a magic all of its own.
The road to Mukawir is signposted off the King's Highway about 20km south of Madaba.
posted by leyle
Whilst you can buy the work of the Bani Hamida Bedouin weavers in Amman, a visit to their headquarters near Mukawir is another experience entirely. Here you will not only find a huge selection of this wonderful work (the warp-faced flatweave style is uniquely Bedouin), you will also see the great piles of dyed but unwoven wool waiting to be collected - the weavers work in their own homes - and observe a very successful cottage enterprise at work. This is more than just another shopping trip.
Prices reflect the value of the work, which is of the highest quality (eg$75 for a piece 70x55cms)
Posted by leyle
Aaran was the brother of Moses, you can see his tomb (just!), in the distance from the High Place of Sacrafice on top of Jebel Hor, Petra. Which is a 6 hour trek away!
If you look very closely (enlarge the photo) at the middle peak you can see a while nipple shaped dome, that is the Tomb of Aaran! (~_~)
The High Place of Sacrafice is a good walk from Petra's main area, there is a path by the side of the Ampitheatre. Well worth the trek, the views are incredible. We only saw one other person on our way there & back and he was a drinks seller!
We had quite an amusing experience whilst walking up to the high Place of Sacrifice at Petra.
We came across a man sitting behind a rock selling Pepsi, seemingly in the middle of no where.
He had a fridge, which I can see would keep already cold drinks, cold longer. But he had taped the electric lead in to a rock, to try to give the impression that the fridge was plugged in!
It stuck Alex & myself as so funny (I think it must have partly been the heat!), Even the drinks seller couldnt help laughing.
To top it off, the drinks were warm!
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Wadi Rum, Jordan
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