Jordan Day 2 — Hidden Gems

The focus for most tourists who visit Jordan is Petra, the ancient Rose City. I will admit that it was our principal reason for tacking on this extension offered by our tour operator, Overseas Adventure Travel. But our main destination on our second full day in the country took us to the Roman ruins in Jerash. It’s known as the Pompeii of the Middle East because much of the city was buried in sand until relatively recent excavation. Our advice to any potential visitors to Jordan is don’t pass up the opportunity to visit.

Jerash as seen from the Temple of Zeus.

We also visited the mountain citadel at Ajloun, built during the Crusades and from which you can see the Golan Heights on the horizon. Our day ended with dinner at the home of a Jordanian family in Amman, one of the regular features offered by this tour company. It was quite an experience.

The Golan Heights are to the left of the towers in the distanced. Ajloun is roughly 50 miles from Damascus, and also 50 miles from Jerusalem.

In size and scale Jerash compares favorably to Pompeii, though the latter is more extensively excavated and Jerash wasn’t destroyed by a calamity. Like the Roman Empire itself, the city simply faded away, with its structures repurposed over the generations by other people that have lived in the area..

The Hadrian Arch was one of the main entrances to the city.

Jerash was about an hour drive north of Amman. As you drive there you pass through one of the Palestinian refugee camps, but to call it a “camp” anymore doesn’t seem accurate. That implies a tent city, but the Palestinians have been there since at least the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel, meaning most of the current inhabitants have only known Jordan and not Palestine. (It looked like most other enclaves we saw in Jordan, with shops and regular housing.)

Jerash reminded us of another Roman city visited in Turkey known as Aphrodesia. Visitors to Turkey all know about Ephesus because it’s on the coast and easily accessible to cruise passengers, while Aphrodesia is well inland and thus off the regular tourist track. Jerash may simply be overlooked.


  1. I’m requesting upside down chicken and rice when you return
    looks like this was a Perfect addition to your trip to Egypt
    pat, sr.


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