Fun things to do in Jordan

  • Performers in the theatre
    Performers in the theatre
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  • The lower entrance to the North Theatre
    The lower entrance to the North Theatre
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  • North Tetrapylon
    North Tetrapylon
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Jordan

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    Qasr al-Kharaneh

    by antistar Updated Mar 6, 2014

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    Qasr al-Kharaneh is one of a number of desert castles east of the capital. Despite its name, it was more likely used as an inn, a lonely oasis in the midst of a vast treeless desert. The building has about 60 rooms, and a small courtyard. You can climb up onto the roof for long views over huge acres of nothingness. Except for the dusty highway and a vacant military base there didn't seem to be very much out there at all.

    The castle was original built by either the Romans or Byzantines, and eventually taken over by the Islamic Umayyads in 710AD. It forms part of the Desert Castle chain, and the next nearest is Castle Amra, about 16km away.

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    Qasr Al Amra

    by antistar Updated Mar 6, 2014

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    Hazim, the Bedouin and his tea.

    Hazim greeted me as I entered Qasr Al Amra, he was a fine guide and a genuine Bedouin. After surprising him with my few hastily learned words of Arabic ("salam alaikoum!"), he insisted I come inside and drink tea with him. And more tea. And more tea. He spoke pretty good English, but he didn't seem to understand "no thanks", "I've had quite enough tea now, thank you", and "I've really got be going or I'll never get back to my hotel before the sun goes down."

    His tour of the castle was brief, but fascinating, and I regret now not giving him any money. At the time I was unsure whether I was supposed to pay guides, or whether they were part of the entrance fee, but I later learned that all the guides seem to live off the money they get from showing people around. I guess he was too polite to ask, and I felt uncomfortable offering money. I really wish I'd made the effort now.

    If you go there, and see Hazim, give him a couple of dinar from me!

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    Bethany

    by antistar Updated Mar 6, 2014

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    According to the bible, Jesus was baptised on the Jordan river, but it doesn't say which side. Today one bank of the river Jordan is in Jordan, the other side is in Israel. Both sides claim that Jesus was baptised on *their* side of the river. My Jordanian guide was adamant, of course, that it was Jordan who had not the strongest claim, but the *only* claim.

    His argument was very convincing. John the Baptist lived and died on the Jordan side of the river, ending his days to the execution order of Herod's daughter down the road in Kerak. It has been shown historically that the river Jordan has changed course over the centuries, and would have several meters inside the Jordanian border at the time of Jesus. They have found marble steps dating from the period, which were probably used for baptisms.

    Most important of all, however, the Pope sided with Jordan, and you can't argue with the Pope.

    The whole place is so close to the border, it is inside a Jordanian military zone. When you are driving along to the site on the tour bus, you can see Jericho on the other side of the Jordan in the Occupied Territories. When you finally reach Bethany, you can walk down to the river Jordan and stand a few feet from Israel, looking over at the Israeli's own baptism tourist site, with the Israeli flag flying proudly over it.

    It costs 7JD for the tour, the bus, and the entrance fee. Don't take photographs of the soldiers, or anything military, and mind the flies. There were hundreds of them. Not biting ones, though.

    This place has no public transport, so you'll need to get a taxi.

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    Jerash

    by antistar Updated Mar 6, 2014

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    Jerash (or Gerasa) is an absolute, gob-stopping, jaw-dropping highlight of any trip to Jordan, as it would be if it were anywhere else on the planet. It's vast, it's amazingly intact, and they've only dug up about a third of the Roman city so far. One Italian I spoke to who'd also visited, told me how he'd been sitting on a pile of dirt, eating his sandwiches, and casually digging around in the dirt, when he'd pulled out a genuine Roman artifact: a small cup.

    The other amazing aspect of this Roman city is the almost complete lack of tourists. If this were anywhere else in the world, the place would be heaving with tourists; you wouldn't be able to move. Because this is Jordan and the Middle East, and everyone is scared of terrorism, it's almost completely empty. I was even had my own personal viewing of the famous Bedouin Bagpipe duo in the amphitheater. I spent an entire afternoon there, and only one tour group showed up, and the place is so big it just swallowed them whole.

    You can go anywhere, climb on anything, and do anything. There are no ropes to stop you, and the guards are more interested in eating sandwiches and looking out for non-existent terrorists. There's a down-side to that, as there's no stopping you from going somewhere dangerous and falling down and breaking your leg. I stumbled stupidly at one point, and must have torn a ligament or something, as I had pain walking for the next few days.

    Now the history. Jerash started life as a Greek city in the third century BC, but flourished under the Romans, who built almost everything that you see today. It became a Byzantine city after the fall of the Roman empire, before falling into the hands of the Umayyads around the 7th century AD. Its demise came at the hands of the Crusaders, who put an end to the ancient part of this city, although the modern city of Jerash continues today next door.

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    Petra

    by antistar Updated Mar 6, 2014

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    When I visited this magnificent piece of history, there was much propaganda from the local tourist board, begging what few visitors braved the overblown threat of terrorism to visit the New Seven Wonders of the World website and vote Petra to become a member. Despite the distinct lack of visitors, it succeeded, and made the last shortlist of 21, before the final decision is made in July. At the very least, it's now rated as one of the 21 most amazing sites in the world. I reckon it's at least in the top ten.

    Petra hits the right note in so many ways, to make it a strong contender.

    On its own it would be an area of amazing natural beauty, and would create wonder in any visitor as to how a land like this could have been created. Walking through the Siq, a great rift in the sandstone mountains, as the sheer red rock climbs steeply above your head, and your footsteps echo down the empty narrow passageway, is a eerie and awesome sensation. And that's just the start of the show. As the Siq opens up onto one of Petra's most famous landmarks, the Treasury, it's difficult not to be completely bowled over.

    And there's much much more!

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    Visit Jerash

    by solopes Updated Feb 20, 2014

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    Roman cities are not exactly a rarity around the Mediterranean Sea, but Jerash, for its size and preservation is a must see.

    Close to Amman, it's easy to visit and surely deserves the trip. Not only many of the old structures are very well preserved, but it is possible to see the evolution of the city from its Roman origins (also with a few older remains) to its destruction by an earthquake in the 8th century, and some adding of christian constructions. However, the most remarkable element is the oval square, once the roman forum!

    Jerash - Jordan Avenue - Jerash - Jordan Live music -Jerash - Jordan Jerash - Jordan Jerash - Jordan
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    The Dead Sea

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Jan 3, 2014

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    The better and lower cost alternatives for Dead sea resorts are on the Jordan side of the lake. The Dead sea is the lowest point on earth at over 1,200 feet below sea level. The water is highly saline so conventional swimming is out. However the high salt and mineral content are purported to be good for the skin and the high salt content leads to a very high buoyancy allowing you to float on the lake like a cork in water. It's just one of those things that has to be experienced.

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    Petra

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Jan 3, 2014

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    From 300BC to about 300 CE, this city carved out of the surrounding sandstone controlled the caravan routes across the desert. Petra declined when the Romans re-routed the caravans north and was finally abandoned in 376 AD after an earthquake.

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    Mose's Spring

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Jan 3, 2014

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    This natural Spring in Wadi Musa ( Mose's Valley) near Petra is purportedly the site where Moses in the bible struck the rock and made a spring to appear during the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the desert.

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    Amman- the White city

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Jan 3, 2014

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    Amman is the capital and by far the largest city of Jordan with close to 3 million residents. It's known as the white city for the white limestone facades that are mandated by building codes. Amman has been inhabited since the 13th century BC and was known as Philadelphia by the Greeks and Romans. The major tourist attraction of Amman is the Citadel which captures the most significant of the the ruins of this age.

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    Petra

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

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    Don't expect me to say too much about Petra. It's an absolute must see, that everybody has already heard about, seen in pictures or TV.

    I only say, "I’m glad I've been there".

    If you are a "quick tourist", the kind that feels the place, sees the highlights, and move to the next subject, a full day will be enough for you. But if you are the kind of people that observes each stone and demands the full story of each building, then you will get old in place. Fortunately, the best areas have... shades!

    Colors - Petra Petra Tresor - Petra Shade at last Narrow ways
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    Dead Sea

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

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    Don't waste your time reading about the Dead Sea. You need to step into the water to feel it. But don't miss it for nothing, and you'd better not stay too long. The salt and the sun are aggressive, and bathing is more comfortable in the Red Sea.

    We stopped at Sweimeh, at the Government Rest House equipped with cheap lockers, showers and shades, with a restaurant and a shop of local products. We allowed ourselves time enough to have fun in the water and lunch, to buy some tons of creams and all that stuff, and escape from the furnace towards Petra.
    A great experience!

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    Wadi Seer & Qasr Iraq el-Amir

    by MM212 Updated Aug 15, 2013

    This astonishingly fertile valley, known as Wadi Seer, with Mediterranean landscape, lies some 20 minutes southwest of Amman. Within it is a village known as Iraq el-Amir, in which stands one of the few remaining architectural examples from the Hellenistic period in Jordan. The structure is known as Qasr el-Abd, or Qasr Iraq el-Amir, and dates from around 200BC. Wadi Seer makes a fun short excursion from the city of Amman, one worth making not only to see the ancient palace, but also to see a very different landscape from the semi-arid plateau that surrounds Amman.

    For more, take a look at the Iraq el-Amir page.

    Wadi Seer, Dec 2010 Qasr Iraq el-Amir, Dec 2010
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    Azrak castle

    by solopes Updated Feb 6, 2013

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    Built in the 13th century over the ruins of a roman fortress, the castle of Azraq is today a new ruin.

    Interesting to see the heavy basalt door that remains from the roman period, and if you dare to climb the apparently dangerous stair, and walk a while in the absolutely dangerous first floor, looking down you will have an excellent idea of the structure used to build ceilings and up floor pavements.

    Noticed for being used by T.E. Lawrence, it deserves a stop if you should pass near the place. We had no time to visit the town and I got the feeling that... we should have.

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    Madaba مادبا

    by MM212 Updated Jan 29, 2013

    Madaba is a quiet little town with some of Jordan's most famous Byzantine-period mosaics. Though much older, the town reached its apogee under the Romans and well into the Christian period, when many churches and residences with intricate mosaic floors were built. Much like many towns in this region, Madaba was destroyed in invasions and earthquakes and was all but forgotten for over a millennium. It was not until the late 19th century, when Christian families from the town of Kerak further south moved in, that the town was resurrected from its ruins. During the construction of churches and houses, numerous mosaics were discovered, the most famous of which is the mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Basilica of Saint George. This has since made Madaba a town of significant archaeological interest and turned it into an obligatory stop on Jordan's tourist itinerary. Madaba is only a 45 minute drive southwest of Amman. For more, take a look at the separate Madaba page.

    Madaba, Dec 2010 Madaba, Dec 2010 Mosaic map of the Holy Land, Dec 2010

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