Full of historic adventure and desert mystery, Jordan not only manages to remain one of the most stable, modern, and safe places in the Middle East but also one of the most welcoming, hospitable countries in the world. The locals love showing people around, for they’re proud of their country. And proud they should be, for Jordan specializes in showing why the Middle East is like no place else on the planet. With a capital city dating back to biblical times, well-preserved examples of Greco-Roman architecture and some of the world’s most significant historical attractions set in dramatic terrain, Jordan’s position as a premier travel destination is undeniable.
Also undeniable is the kingdom’s rich and vast heritage. For 10,000 years travelers have been swept up in the hustle of Amman, followed in the footsteps of prophets up Mount Nebo, gawked at the lost city of Petra, ridden a camel across T.E. Lawrence’s famous dessert Wadi Rum, descended to the lowest point on earth for a luxurious float on the Dead Sea or lounged at Aqaba, the Red Sea Riviera.
Incredible Places - Amman & Petra
Most tours of Jordan begin in the capital city of Amman, known in history’s oldest texts as Rabbath-Ammon and Philadelphia. Centrally located, Amman is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities of the world, hosting an active civilization for more than 5,000 years. It was once part of the Decapolis, a league of 10 Greco-Roman cities, and the grand Roman style is still highly evident at the Amphitheatre, an imposing monument set into the side of a mountain that holds 6,000 spectators and dates back to 169 A.D.
Another member of the Decapolis is the ancient city Jerash. Although sometimes overshadowed by Petra, Jerash is lauded today as one of the largest and best-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside of Italy. It makes for a superb day trip from Amman, where a one-hour drive will teleport you 2,000 years back in time. Life in ancient times comes alive as you enter through the monumental South Gate and into the spacious Oval Plaza before walking down the Cordo, the street of columns, and over chariot tracks still visible in the stones.
Jerash, along with Jordan’s other sights, fall well behind Petra in terms of sheer, jaw-dropping impact; but so do most things in the world. Petra, the Rose Red City, is so well hidden in the canyons that it was lost to the world for 1,000 years until its re-discovery in 1812. Most people have seen pictures of these massive, improbable buildings of stone carved entirely into naturally pink rocks and not believed they actually exist. Seeing is not only believing, but also mind-blowing.
The legacy of the gifted Nabataeans, industrious Arabs who settled in the south of Jordan 2,000 years ago, Petra includes hundreds of buildings, facades, tombs, and haunting rock drawings. Visitors enter through the siq, a narrow, 1.2 kilometer-long gorge with 100-meter cliffs on either side before turning the last corner to become stunned at the sudden appearance of the Treasury, Al Khazneh, a 43-meter tall tomb. Upon this first glimpse of Petra, you’ll understand why many call it the eighth wonder of the ancient world.
Wadi Rum could rightfully be called a wonder of the natural world. The inspiration for Lawrence of Arabia, Wadi Rum is a vast desert landscape, both silent and surreal, where massive mountains wrought by time into unique, twisted shapes rise out of the sand. The only inhabitants are a few thousand villagers and Bedouin nomads. There are no hotels, for travelers head out on camels for overnight stays in tents to enjoy this cathedral of nature, staring up at stars and ingesting the timeless solitude of the area.
Many landmarks of Christianity are scattered throughout Jordan, an essential piece of the Holy Lands, serving as pilgrimage sites to believers. Heading this list is Mount Nebo, where Moses
Christian travelers, along with those from around the globe, are visiting Jordan now more than ever, and the country is sometimes beleaguered by the inflow, limiting the numbers allowed at sacred sites like Petra. Under these circumstances, it’s wise to seek the professional guidance of a travel agent to find reputable tours of Jordan that guarantee admissions to Petra and all of the country’s highlights.