Serving as the national capital of Jordan, Amman is a well ordered city within a peaceful country, which represents completely the opposite of what people expect when thinking about this region. Within its many hills, one can expect to find ruins from the days of the Romans, atmospheric souqs featuring the finest in Jordanian foodstuffs and handicrafts, and charming cafes and restaurants where amazing local cuisine can be enjoyed.
This place hadn’t always been the thriving locale it is today though, as it was a much sleepier burg before the occupying Brits dubbed it the capital of Trans Jordan (as the country was then known) in the 1920’s. After this, and then once Israel advanced on Jordan in 1948 and in 1967, the displaced people from what is known as the West Bank moved to Amman to start new lives.
All of this plus the stability of Jordan as a nation have allowed this city to morph into the bustling centre that it is in the present day. While many bemoan Amman for having nothing of interest, it is entirely possible that they are in a rush to get to Petra or the Dead Sea, as those that take a closer look will find plenty of things to love about the Jordanian capital.
With a regional history stretching back thousands of years, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that the Romans had a hand in the past history of Jordan and Amman. Perhaps due to stereotypes surrounding this area of the world though, many find it surprising to find a Roman Theater of excellent condition sitting within the confines of this busy city.
Built into a steep hillside during the second century A.D., it was an excellently constructed facility, allowing for perfect visibility and acoustics even toward the very back of the stands, which have a capacity of roughly 6,000 people. After daydreaming about the visual arts put on in these cultured times, two museums in the rooms preceding the main entrances offer an opportunity to understand the culture of the present, covering the subject matters of local traditions and folklore.
Another Roman era construction worth your time in Amman is the Nymphaeum, a ruins complex that is slowly being uncovered with every passing year. At its peak in 191 AD, this temple paying tribute to the nymphs was festooned with fountains, mosaics, and a centrepiece 600 square metre swimming pool. At present, it has not been restored to its former glory, though this may change as archeological efforts continue.
Known locally in Arabic as Jabal al-Qal’a, the Amman Citadel is the location of the ancient remains of the fortress walls, temples, tombs and other structures that existed over the seven thousand years of prior history in the Amman area. Many artifacts from these sites have found their way into the National Archeological Museum, which is found with the premises of this historic area.
If finding a killer deal in the souqs of Amman is high on your list of priorities, taking a stroll through The Balad will go a long way to achieving this end. Situated in the centre of Amman, these stalls containing everything from tea pots to Dead Sea beauty products will vie for your business, and with no posted prices, your knowledge of wholesale prices will definitely come in handy to securing an excellent deal for yourself!
Art lovers will take a liking to the galleries of Darat al Funun, a series of villas that contain many outstanding pieces that combine with a killer view of the lower streets of Amman. This place is an amazing resource for local and visiting artists and their admirers, as this art centre also puts on workshops, films and lectures from visiting experts that those in this genre will find very enlightening.
Finally, if you’re looking for a hip area to chill out in before leaving town for Jordan’s many attractions outside the capital, spending some time in the Rainbow St area is highly advised. Named for a defunct theatre that used to operate here, the many bars and cafes here will offer a place where you can use caffeine and/or alcohol to while away an afternoon or evening before departing the city for domestic or international destinations.