Amman is the home to some of the grandest mosques in the Middle East
Although they compare less favorably to the ones to be found in Istanbul, Turkey. The newest of these is the enormous King Abdullah I Mosque, built between 1982 and 1989. It is capped by a magnificent blue mosaic dome beneath which 3,000 Muslims may offer prayer. The most unusual mosque in Amman is the Abu Darweesh Mosque atop Jabal Ashrafieh (the highest point in the city). It is covered with black and white checkered pattern and is unique to Jordan. It is visible from quite some distance. In contrast, the interior is totally free of the black and white scheme. Instead, there are light colored walls and Persian carpets. Visitors desiring to experience “Old Amman” should explore the central downtown, or Balad, which features numerous souqs, shops, and street vendors.
It is highly advisable to see the sunset from the view point near the Citadel. But pay also your attention to the time of the muezzin call. If you listen to it from the view point, where the whole city lies before you, you get the unforgettable acoustic impression.
Bike tours are a good way to see the local scenery and meet local cyclists. There are a couple of bicycling tour firms in Amman:
Tareef cycling club provides fun active weekend cycling and hiking trips, supporting all levels of fitness all around Jordan.
Cycling-Jordan.com offers tours and weekly trips to the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea.
Many budget hotels organize day tours for a sensible price, but they do not include entrance fees which could be important. These tours are open to people who don’t sleep at the hotel. Classical tours are Jerash/Ajlun/Um Qais, Madaba/Mount Nebo/Baptism site/Dead sea, and Castles.
Madaba is a small town in central Jordan located south of the capital Amman on the King’s Highway, some 10 km from Hesban. A town with a long history, Madaba is best known as the location of the “Madaba Map”, a 6th century mosaic depiction of Jerusalem and parts of the Holy Land. Madaba is about a half hour from Amman. There are frequent minibuses each way. A taxi is a good option, especially if you’re in a group. If you are coming into Madaba from Amman, make sure you get off the bus on the “Kings Highway” before getting to the bus terminal as it is now located east of the town and you’ll need a taxi to get to the centre.
One of the most breathtaking views in Jordan is witnessed from the top of Mount Nebo, located just 10 minutes to the east of Madaba. From this vantage point you can see the Dead Sea, Jericho and on a very clear night, even the hills overlooking Jerusalem. This is the spot where the Hebrew Bible says that Moses stood and witnessed the “promised land”. Visit before sunset to take in the Franciscan Monastery and Church located here.
During your stay in Madaba you can do full day tour to Mount Nebo, Bethany, Dead Sea, Panorama Dead Sea and Hamammat Ma’in. Also one can do a day trip to desert Castels “Amra, Kharaneh and Azraq” Also from Madaba start the trip to Petra via the Kings Highway with a stop at Wadi Mujib, Karak, Dana and end in Petra.
Wadi Jadid located within 10 km to the south west of Madaba city at Al Fayha village. This Wadi is a field of dolmens (Burial Chambers or large stone memorials), where you could see more than 40 dolmens (12 of them standing in a very good condition) and the rest are damaged probably by earthquakes. Also there are several menhirs, cupholes and stone alignments as well. These dolmens dating to around 3000 B.C about 5000 years old, from the Early Bronze Age I. The locals there believed that dolmens are the houses of ghosts, they called it in Arabic Bit Al Ghula.
The city does hold a few items of historical and cultural interest.
- Roman Theatre. Entrance of JD1 also covers the folklore museum and popular culture museum.
- Roman-era Nymphaeum
- Ammonite-era watchtower
- Citadel (Jabal al-Qal’a) located in the centre of both ancient and modern Amman.
- Temple of Herakles Roman period remains
- Byzantine Church dating to the 5th-6th centuries
- Ummayad Palace situated in the northern portion of the Citadel, entrance JD2. Offers a great view of Amman.
- National Archaeological Museum – situated on the Citadel, the museum is a small but interesting collection of antiquities from all over Jordan. Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which used to be housed here are now being transfered to the new National Museum of Jordan.
- Darat al Funun or ‘small house of the arts’ in Jabal el Weibdeh, overlooking the heart of Amman, is housed in three adjacent villas from the 1920s (and the remains of a sixth-century Byzantine church built over a Roman Temple), it has a permanent collection and also holds changing exhibitions. In the same area there are other small art galleries and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.
- Rainbow St. near the 1st Circle in Jabal Amman is an interesting area to walk around and explore, it is named after the old Rainbow Cinema which is now out of use, but the area has been recently experiencing a revival with many of the old houses being restored and put into use, in the area there are some cafes and bars including Books@cafe and Wild Jordan both with great views, a Hammam, the Royal Film Commission which sometimes holds outdoor screenings on its patio and some interesting small shops. Across the street from the British Council on Rainbow St., there is the refreshing Turtle Green Tea Bar where everything is in English and you can borrow a laptop to access the internet while enjoying your snack.
Wear – The Islamic headscarf is optional, there is no legal obligation to wear it and many women do not. In more affluent areas such as West Amman women often dress in Western clothing. Western women are advised to dress modestly. Long skirts pants and shirts with sleeves past the elbows will attract less unwanted attention for female travelers. Modest clothing is especially important at religious sites. In more conservative parts of the city such as East Amman, women are advised to heed the advice to wear modest clothing more strongly so as to not offend local sensibilities.
Safety – Compared with other capital cities, Amman is a very safe place to visit. Jordanian police and the military maintain a tight grip on law and order. Personal safety is high in Amman – it is safe to walk anywhere in the city at any time of day or night. Serious crime is extremely rare. In 2005, some major hotels were targeted by bombers (connected with the conflict in Iraq). Security measures at all major hotels were increased as a result. Jordan is a majority Muslim country with a large Christian population too. Jordanian people are mostly very welcoming to any foreign visitors. Women should wear fairly conservative clothing if visiting religious sites. While Jordan is a generally free and tolerant country avoid discussing sensitive topics with casual acquaintances or strangers such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or making negative comments about the Jordanian royal family.
Ancient City of Petra • Locations & Activities