Amman - JerashWe’ll begin with a friendly introduction, and a small tour briefing. A detour to Starbucks to pick up your favourite coffee and snacks (included in the price) will take place after. From there, it’s a 1-hour (50 km) drive from Amman to Jerash in a luxury car which includes WiFi, sipping coffee and enjoying your selected snacks. Water and soft drinks are provided at no extra cost. There is also an iPhone charger, headphones and you’ll have access to an iPad with an internet connection, and Netflix.
Arch of HadrianOne of the most well-preserved ancient structures in Jordan, The Arch of Hadrian, also known as the Triumphal Arch of Jerash, is an impressive monument that was built to commemorate one of the most famous moments in Roman history: Emperor Hadrian's visit. It is a popular tourist attraction and is often used as a symbol of Jerash. The arch was built in 130 AD and would have served as a southern gate to the city, but sadly it remained only half-finished. However, it is yet considered to be one of the best examples of Roman architecture in the region. The structure is made of local sandstone and has three arches with the central arch being the tallest. The top of the arch is decorated with a relief of the emperor. The sides of the arch are also heavily decorated with panels depicting scenes from mythology.
Church of Marianos and the HippodromeThe Church of Marianos and the Hippodrome are located right after the Arch of Hadrian. The church was built in the fifth century AD and is noteworthy for its Byzantine mosaics, which depict scenes from the Bible. The Hippodrome, situated across the Church of Marianos, is a beautifully preserved structure elliptical in shape, measuring over 260 meters long and 50 meters wide. It features a large central arena with three curved entrances, as well as grandstands on either side. The hippodrome was used for horse races and other public events, and it was an important part of Jerash's civic life. The structure still stands today and it is a popular tourist attraction in Jerash. We will walk around the perimeter of the arena and climb to the top of the grandstands for a better view of the Arch of Hadrian.
Temple of Zeus and South AmphitheatreAfter the Hippodrome, we will reach the Visitor Centre and continue to the Temple of Zeus and South Amphitheatre, two of the most spectacular monuments in the city. The temple, located on the south side of the amphitheatre, was built in the second century AD and is dedicated to the god Zeus. It is surrounded by a large colonnade, with decorative carvings. This is also the best place to take a panoramic photo of the Oval Plaza. The amphitheatre was built in 90 - 92 AD and could seat up to 3500 spectators. It was used for concerts, plays, and political assemblies. It has been extensively restored and is one of the main venues of the yearly Jerash Festival of Culture & Arts. Usually, you will find a couple of musicians here dressed in traditional clothes, who will play some local music for a small tip to demonstrate the acoustic of this place.
Oval Plaza and Jerash Archaeological MuseumThe majestic oval plaza in Jerash measures 90m x 80m and is surrounded by a broad sidewalk, lined with 2nd century AD Ionic columns. There are two alters at the centre to holds up an ancient flame; one was lit recently to commemorate festival events passed since then-7th Century AD. The Cardo Maximus is a Roman road built in the 2nd century AD consisting of two parallel colonnades, with an 800 metres roadway in between. The columns were made of limestone, and designed to be durable and withstand the test of time. The arches provide extra support, and the road is wide enough to accommodate traffic. The Archaeological Museum of Jerash was founded in 1928 inside Jerash Archaeological Site and situated next to the Oval Plaza. The museum contains an exhibition hall in which the artefacts were displayed in a historical sequence from the Neolithic to the Islamic times with a total number of displayed pieces of 600.
Cathedral and NymphaeumThe Jerash Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral built in the late 4th century and is one of the most impressive buildings of its kind. It was built by Emperor Constantine and was used as a church for over 1,000 years. The building has been renovated several times over the centuries, but its original form can still be seen today. The Nymphaeum is one of the most clever structures of the site. It is a monumental fountain that was built in the 2nd century AD, during the time of Emperor Hadrian. The Nymphaeum is located at the bottom of a valley, which provided an excellent natural setting for this monument. The spring water that feeds it comes from an underground source and flows into a rectangular basin and then through a channel cut into the rock to create a cascading waterfall. It has been hypothesized that this nymphaeum was used as both a public fountain and as a ritual bathing place for worshipers in ancient Jerash.
North Theatre and Temple ArtemisThe North Theatre is referred to as an odeion in a late 2nd-century inscription that ran along the background of the stage. It was thus used to hold music and poetry performances. The best section of the seating was reserved for the municipal council with the remaining sections allocated to representatives of each tribe in proportion to their importance, as inscriptions carved on the seats suggest. The theatre is the only place in the world found to date where such information on the local civic life of an ancient city is so well preserved. It is a quiet place where you can sit and relax for a bit before we continue with the tour. The temple is dedicated to Artemis, a Greek goddess who was thought to be a protector of young women and children, as well as fertility. It lies inside the large courtyard of the sanctuary. Construction of the temple began in the 2nd century AD, however, it was never finished and only 12 columns out of a planned total of 32 were erected. The temple sits on an extensive system of underground vaults, the exact purpose of which is not known. One of the chambers has a staircase leading down to the vaults, while the second has a staircase leading up to the roof, indicating that there may have been an altar on top. This will conclude the tour, and after exiting Jerash through the gate located next to the North Amphitheatre, you can experience local cuisine at one of the restaurants nearby (optional, not included in the tour’s price).
Ajloun CastleWe will drive you to Ajloun castle, situated just 20 km (30 min) north-west of Jerash. Built on top of the mountain, this castle is a fine example of Islamic military architecture, marking it an important strategic link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders. It was built by Saladin’s nephew, Izz ad Din Usama between 1184 and 1188, and revamped by the Mamluks at the later stage. After a short brake at the visitor cantre, I will guide you through different parts of the castle, explain the history and unique architectural features. A small museum inside the castle has a collection of artefacts found in the region and is recommended for a short visit. We will finish the tour by taking a 15-minute walk around the outside walls of the castle to return to the visitor centre.
Ajloun - AmmanWe will drive you all the way back to Amman and drop you off at your hotel, where we picked you up. No doubt after a satisfying and inspiring few hours in Jerash and Ajloun, Jordan’s most famed archaeological sites.