Jordan is often referred to as the jewel of the Middle East and anyone who visits will quickly understand why. It is the perfect destination for those looking to explore the Middle East further. Tours to Jordan offer a unique opportunity to visit ancient sites, admire the magnificent granite cliffs of the desert, and even swim in the Dead Sea. Here are some of the most interesting places to visit in Jordan.
Amman is the capital of Jordan and its largest city, as well as the main cultural and commercial center. It is also one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. The first settlers appeared here in the Neolithic period, around 8500 B.C. Over the centuries, the city has been ruled by, among others, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians and Romans, and the traces of their presence are visible everywhere in the city. Today, this thriving metropolis is one of the most liberal cities in the Middle East. In the heart of Amman, you can see the second-century A.D. Roman Theater, the largest of its kind in Jordan, which could have accommodated 6,000 spectators. It is also worth visiting the Citadel, a collection of monuments dating from a variety of times: the remains of Bronze Age walls; the Roman Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius; the eighth-century Arab Umayyad Palace; and the modern Jordan Archeological Museum, where you can admire artifacts from all over the country.
Petra is one of the great cities of the ancient world, mysterious and beautiful, and definitely deserves a spot on anyone’s bucket list. In 2007, Petra was included in the New Seven Wonders of the World. The whole city is carved into the rose-red rock, and there is only one road leading to it, through the narrow canyon of es-Sik. Established over 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, Petra was an important point on the Silk Road that connected the trade networks between Europe and Asia. The city was abandoned in the Middle Ages as a result of numerous earthquakes and gradually fell into ruin. Petra was not rediscovered by the Western world until 1812.
There are many stunning buildings in Petra, including the best-known al-Khazna, or the Treasury, so named by Bedouins who believed it contained hidden wealth. This multistory building was carved into the cliff in the first or second century B.C., and its purpose is not fully known. Some historians and archaeologists believe it was the tomb of one of the rulers of Petra and his wife, but there are also opinions that it was a temple in honor of one of the gods. Other buildings worth visiting are the Nabatean Theater, one of the largest buildings in Petra, which can accommodate several thousand spectators; the temple of the god Duszara; and numerous royal tombs.
In desert areas, occasional fierce rainstorms flood otherwise dry valleys, creating swift and winding rivers. These valleys are called wadis, and the largest in Jordan is Wadi Rum. It is located in the southern part of the country and is known for its breathtaking scenery. Rock paintings and petroglyphs date back 12,000 years. The Nabatean culture ruled the area from at least the second century B.C. to the second century A.D., leaving behind their famous stunning rock-cut tombs and temples. Currently, only Bedouin groups live here. Wadi Rum is different from other deserts. Instead of vast dunes, here you will find sandstone mountains and high granite cliffs, and the landscape, according to many, resembles the surface of the moon. There are many reasons to visit Wadi Rum, including its unique rock formations and the remnants of ancient cultures.
In the western part of Jordan, a short distance from the Dead Sea, you will find Mount Nebo, where Moses first saw the Promised Land – but he was not permitted to enter with the tribes of Israel. At the dawn of Christianity, a sanctuary dedicated to Moses, which still operates under the protection of the Franciscan Order, was established on top of the mountain. There is also an archaeological park there. From the top of Mount Nebo you will have a fantastic view of the Jordan Valley and much of the Holy Land, and in the distance, if visibility is good, you can see the walls of Jericho and Jerusalem.
The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world and is the lowest land point on Earth, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Negev Desert. Geologically speaking, it is not a sea at all, but a drainless lake, which explains why it is drying up over the years – the rate of evaporation is not matched by any incoming water. The sea was named “dead” because, due to its high salinity (22%-36%), there is almost no organic life in it, but the water is used to obtain significant amounts of table salt and potassium. The unusual concentration of salt makes it easy for people who are unable to swim to float on the surface.
The waters of the Dead Sea are credited with extraordinary health and healing properties. Its water and mud are said to heal skin diseases, and the highly oxygenated air at this low elevation has a calming effect and may offer relief from allergies. According to legend, the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah lie deep at the bottom.
With so much to see and do in Jordan, it would be a shame to miss out. Why not join us to catch a glimpse of this small country and its long history, its thousands of archaeological sites and its beautiful landscapes?
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