Asia Destinations Jordan Travel

Exploring Northern Jordan

Tristan Davis (@tristans_expeditions) is a world-traveler, journey author and photographer. He’s at the moment finding out a Masters in Worldwide Relations at NYU. He’s a vegetarian foodie, road meals aficionado, and lover of artwork, historical past and tradition. 

Just lately having explored the lesser-traveled Western Asia whereas finding out Arabic, he’s put collectively a listing of his must-sees should you’re going to the world your self. 

Exploring Northern Jordan: Amman, Madaba and Jerash

Identified to the traditional Greeks as ‘Philadelphia’, Amman, Jordan’s capital, is stuffed with historic ruins, and genuine markets. I spent a month in Amman finding out Arabic final January, and ventured down from Jordan College into the Wasat Balad (Amman’s previous city heart) each likelihood I obtained.

Beneath are a few of my planning suggestions, favourite spots, in addition to one of the best websites in Amman, and day-trips inside an hour by public transit. The close by cities of Madaba and Jerash are to not be missed on a visit to Amman!

Planning your journey to Jordan

Earlier than going to Jordan, look into getting a ‘JordanPass’, an $80-100 go to all of Jordan’s main websites together with Petra. The JordanPass additionally eliminates the necessity for a Jordanian visa-on-arrival. The value of Petra + visa charges alone is shut sufficient to the worth of the Jordan Move that you could be as properly get it, even should you don’t have time to see the whole lot!

I’d extremely suggest staying within the previous metropolis at one of many hostels there, as many of the websites and museums are concentrated on this space. The nicer resorts and homestays are somewhat outdoors of the previous city, however nonetheless shut sufficient. To get to the Wasat Balad from outdoors of the previous city, you’ll be able to take a shared taxi for simply 50 cents.

Doves flying over Amman’s metropolis heart


The Souk

Close to the oldest mosque within the metropolis, the grand Jama Hussein, Amman’s souk(market) is a real market expertise. That is the place to replenish on dried and recent fruit, particularly dates and figs! The recent plums and apricots are positively a few of the greatest I’d ever had, and there are additionally a lot of selfmade jams and preserves on the market which make nice items and souvenirs.

The souk’s central location and cheap road meals make it a wonderful place to seize a snack. Be sure to strive the manaqish, a Levantine flatbread topped with olive oil and recent za’atar (thyme, sesame, and combined mountain herbs).

For one thing candy, strive knafe, a candy gooey cheese with phyllo dough, rosewater syrup and diced pistachios. There are dozens of delicately-made Arab desserts, however knafe is among the most iconic deserts from the Jordan-Palestine area.


Recent fruit and vegetable in Amman’s major souk, close to Jama Hussein

The big variety of Palestinians, Yemenis, Syrians, and Somalis in Amman makes the town a cultural melting pot, with all types of various handmade items, artwork, eating places, pastries, and folks from the Center East and Africa.

Along with the produce market, there’s a gold/jewellery souk, and a clothes souk as properly. Remember to cut price, as costs within the souk rely solely on what you’re prepared to pay. Normally, Jordan may be expensive, however the costs on the markets are one of the best within the metropolis.

Amman Citadel and Roman Theatre

Amman’s two most notable historic websites are the Citadel and Roman Theatre, that are shut to one another, and close to the souk as properly. Begin right here to get a basis of Amman’s historical past, and a view over the town.

The Citadel is perched above the town, on the very best of Amman’s seven hills.

Amman Citadel and Roman Theatre

The Temple of Hercules, Amman Citadel

Down under, the Roman Theatre and Nymphaeum (public tub and fountain) are additionally value a go to. The large theatre seats 6000, proof that Philadelphia was a sizeable metropolis in its Roman heyday!

Rainbow Road (Shariya al-Rainbow)

This road and the encompassing space is a costlier, expat and hipster space with cafes, document shops, picture galleries, and vintage bookshops. Hang around on Rainbow road lengthy sufficient and you could catch wind of an underground get together, or pop-up craft market coming quickly.


Amman’s mosques are small compared to different main Islamic cities, nevertheless, they’re embellished with colourful tiles and bricks, surrounded by hillside gardens, and are positively value a go to. Whereas staying with my host household, we wearing conventional clothes and went to a special mosque every Friday. Jordan was the primary Center-Japanese nation I visited on the time, and it was a very precious studying expertise for me.

Atop Jebel al-Ashrafiya, the Abu Darwish mosque stands proudly in conventional striped brick. After I was on the Amman Citadel, I seen it within the distance and determined to go to it. Strolling up the hill from Jama Hussein, it took about an hour, however the views of the town and the Citadel are unbelievable.

The surreal Abu Darwish mosque

The surreal Abu Darwish mosque

On the high, I met some actually hospitable Jordanian guys who I spent the night with, ingesting espresso, smoking shisha, going to the mosque, and assembly their households. There aren’t normally vacationers up right here, so issues are low-cost and the persons are real. I extremely suggest visiting Abu Darwish not just for the mosque however for the views and interplay with the locals.

There are a number of different mosques value visiting, however Abu Darwish was my favourite by far. I’d additionally suggest the Blue Mosque, al-Hussein mosque, and Jama Hussein, all of which permit non-muslims in. (At Abu Darwish, you’ll must enter with a Jordanian should you’re a non-muslim. However should you’re focused on going inside, most mosque-goers will you invite you.)

The Al-Hussein mosque

The Al-Hussein mosque at night time

Day journeys from Amman

Jerash (1 hour away by bus)

The traditional Greco-Roman metropolis of Gerasa is taken into account to be the best-preserved outdoors of Italy and Greece. In my view, visiting Gerasa, Jerash’s previous metropolis, was a good higher expertise.


The previous Greco-Roman plaza: Think about it alive and filled with retailers and horse-drawn carts!

There have been only a few vacationers, so I spent a number of hours simply wandering across the plazas, amphitheaters, Hippodrome, and wine cellars. The Corinthian columns are so well-preserved, it’s surprising.

There are conventional Jordanian bands who additionally play reside exhibits in Gerasa, and some occasions a yr there are jousting matches. I did the dabke, a Levantine circle-dance, with some traditionally-clad staff whereas bagpipers performed some folks tunes… it was plenty of enjoyable.


Considered one of many somehow-still-standing doorways in Gerasa

Madaba (1 hour away by bus)

Solely 1hr away from Amman by way of public transit, Madaba boasts Greek mosaic flooring maps and historic church buildings. I visited for simply someday, which was ample time to see the main websites earlier than heading again to Amman.

Church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist

The story goes that King Herod (son of Herod the Nice) promised his step-daughter/niece Salome that for her birthday, she might have something she wished. Herod had lately married Herodias, Salome’s mom, who had beforehand been the spouse of his brother Herod II (the Romans weren’t so inventive with names).

Salome, below stress from her mom, Herodius, advised him that for her birthday, she wished the top of Saint John the Baptist. John had lately been imprisoned for talking out in opposition to their marriage, claiming Herod had stolen his brother’s spouse.

So, John the Baptist was beheaded.

Church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist

View over Madaba from the tower of the Church of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

Saint John is assumed to have enormously impressed and baptized Jesus, making him an essential determine in Christianity and Islam, and resulting in the constructing of the church within the late 1890’s. There are secret tunnels below the church, that company are allowed to stroll by. I pulled up water from an historic underground properly (Moabite period, roughly 3000 years previous) and the water was ice chilly and completely clear. There’s additionally a terrific view of the small metropolis from the highest of the tower!

Mount Nebo

A brief cab experience from Madaba will take you up the mountain to the nationwide park surrounding Mount Nebo. There’s a church which homes a mosaic exhibit on high of the mountain. Entry to the exhibit is included within the small entry charge to the park.

Within the Bible, it’s mentioned that as Moses was main the Jewish individuals by the desert, he seemed over Mount Nebo, and there he noticed the Promised Land. On a transparent day, you’ll be able to even see the skyscrapers of Amman from Mount Nebo.

View of ‘The Promised Land’

Jordan is one other underrated however genuine and exquisite nation to go to, wealthy in Biblical, Greek, Roman, and Arab historical past. Every week on this nation can be an ideal period of time to see all the main websites in Amman, Madaba, and Jerash, and likewise heading south, to spend a while within the desert. No journey is full with out visiting Wadi Rum and Petra!

Primary Arabic phrases (Jordanian Levantine dialect):

Howdy (Peace): Salam
Good Morning: Sabbah el-khreer
Good Night:  Messeh el-khreer
How are you?: Kayf ha-lek?
How are you? : Kayf ha-lek?
I’m properly (Thank God): Hamdu lilleh
What’s new?: Shu Akbar?
What’s your identify? : Shu Ismek ?
My identify is: Ismi..
I’m misplaced: Ana die-e-aw
The place is the…?: Wayn el…
Rest room: hammam
Bus station: mahata el autobeese
I would like : Bidi
What is that this? : Shu hathe?
How a lot? : Adesh hathe?
Sure (formal): nam
Yeah: aye-wa
No: leh
Sorry: asif
Please/Excuse me: lao samaht
Thanks: shukran
Left: yehsar
Proper: yameen or shmael (to not be confused with shamael, which suggests North)
Straight: dugri, thugri, or el amem
Okay: mashi
Good: koise
Do you communicate English?(dialect) Biteki Englizia?
I’m a vegetarian: Ana nebehti

Taxi phrases and etiquette: Jordanian dialect

While you get into the cab: Salam alaikum
I’m going to (the) _____ : Bidi aru illeh (el)
Please [Use] the meter: el adad, lao samaht
Let me out right here(dialect): bidi enzel hone
Thank loads: ya tiki el afia (might God offer you well being)

Arabic numbers

1 wahid
2 ithnayn
three thelethe
four arba
5 hamza
6 sitta
7 sabba
eight themaniya
9 tisa’a
10 ashara
(Dialect tip: For teenagers: quantity + 10 (ithnosh =12 , hamztosh =15, and so forth.) For 20-90, add the suffix -een)
20 ashreen (two tens)
30 teleteen
40 arba-een
50 hamseen
100 mea
1000 alf

Able to discover this magical Arabian wonderland? Whether or not you’re by yourself or with a good friend, a bunch tour to Jordan might be the right reply – serving to you to tick off all of the highlights, with a educated information and plenty of helpful inclusions! 

Related posts

The UK & Europe road trip bucket list in 2022


Wonderings: what function will robots play within the journey business?


An area’s information to London


Leave a Comment