Jordan is a constitutional monarchy with modern and western-oriented, Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country’s customs, laws and practices. Tourist facilities are widely available, although quality may vary depending on price and location. The local workweek for Jordanian Government offices and most businesses is Saturday through Thursday. The U.S. Embassy in Amman is open Sunday through Thursday.
Jordan Country Highlights: With many of the world’s most magnificent and important ancient sites, the Jordan has captured the imagination of explorers for centuries. Crusaders, traders, artists, authors and adventurers have always been attracted by the plethora of antiquities, situated amongst snow-capped mountains, stark valleys, and harsh, beautiful desert landscapes.
Jordan, Syria and Lebanon have all been home to groundbreaking civilizations: this is the birthplace of modern history, rich in castles, ruins, and archaeological sites. Visit Roman ruins and Crusader castles; lose yourself in souks, the center of trade in spices, carpets, and clothes. This region is also a place of great natural beauty, with fine snorkeling to be had in the Red Sea, and challenging rock climbing, and gentle scenic walks, on offer at Wadi Rum. Throughout the Jordan , you will be welcomed by hospitable, gracious local people, who will treat you as their honored guest throughout your unforgettable journey.
Insight Jordan: Start your journey in Amman : inhabited since the Neolithic period, it blossomed as the Roman city of Philadelphia. Today Amman is a friendly city, with Roman, Umayyad and Byzantine remains. Travel south from Amman along the King’s Highway, an ancient caravan route mentioned in the Bible and passing through some of Jordan’s most dramatic, splendid scenery.
Visitors pass through Madaba , famed for its Byzantine mosaics, most notably the ‘Madaba map’. This image of Palestine during the Christian era is a key document of Biblical geography. In its heyday, Madaba was the regional center for a thriving mosaic arts tradition, using the broad spectrum of colored stone found throughout the area.
Today Madaba is home to a large Greek Orthodox community. Nearby, Kerak is known for its tremendous Crusader castle, atop a hill with great views of the surrounding valleys. Continue on to Mount Nebo , overlooking the Dead Sea; the mountain has Biblical links with Moses. A Memorial of Moses is tended by Franciscan monks, and has fine mosaics, and stunning views towards the Jordan River and West Bank. The King’s Highway leads to Aqaba on the Dead Sea. Aqaba offers fine snorkeling, and views of the coral from glass-bottomed boats.
Travelers have long been drawn to Jordan’s premier attraction: Petra – an architectural symphony of pink sandstone facades. Petra’s radiant beauty is accentuated by its evocative location. Approach the city through a narrow cleft in the mountains, where a mass of Roman and Nabatean temples awaits the visitor. A key trading site located on the major trade routes between Egypt and Mesopotamia, Petra thrived on the traffic that was forced to pass through this natural stronghold. Petra unquestionably ranks with the world’s greatest historical treasures.
While Petra is rightly famed for its man-made creations, Jordan’s second greatest attraction, Wadi Rum , is a site of legendary natural beauty. Revel in the majesty of this desert site, described by Lawrence of Arabia as ‘Rum the magnificent… vast, echoing and godlike’. Lose yourself amidst towering sandstone cliffs that rise dramatically from the desert floor. Enchanting sunsets convey the utter splendor of the area, home to eagles, ravens, finches, larks and more. Travel to the Red Sea coastal resort of Aqaba for snorkeling amidst the splendid coral reefs and warm waters. With palm trees in the foreground and the dramatic violet Jordanian Heights glowing at sunset, Aqaba offers travelers a fine setting, and superb water sports.
Jordan is home to a vast range of historical sites. Jerash is a superbly preserved Roman city, approached through the dramatic Triumphal Arch, built to commemorate Hadrian’s visit nearly 2000 years ago. A Hippodrome which seated 15,000, and a Theater with seating for 5,000, give a sense of public building of the time. Temples to Zeus and Artemis, as well as shrines to the Virgin Mary, illustrate the long and layered history of Jerash, and, indeed, the entire Jordan region. Jordan is also the site of several of the Decapolis cities: a federation of 10 cities mentioned in the Bible, and by Pliny. Pella is one of the cities, and also houses archaeological remains dating back over 1 million years. Today, most of the remains are from the Roman period: the city was a key trading post between Syria and Arabia. Nearby Um Qais was another trading post, and Decapolis city, which is beautifully situated, with sweeping views of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.
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