On this leg of my larger Middle East trip, I had a fun day exploring the Citadel in Amman and then the Jerash Ruins North of the city on my visit to Jordan.
The citadel in Amman is a stunning site of ancient ruins in itself but the sweeping views of mountainous Amman are breathtaking. The scope of hills and mountains in and around the city is quite something. Almost 2000 years old, the Temple of Hercules (yes that Hercules) is central to the Citadel in Amman, Jordan. The citadel is a fun place to visit in Amman because it sits perched high on a hill overlooking large swaths of the city. (Aka a photographer’s dream). One fun observation about Jordan is that it has a robust tourism industry but I ran into precious few of my fellow Americans over there. Missing out!
The Roman Theater is so old it harkens back to a time when Amman went by another name. What was the original ancient name of the city, you ask? Answer: Philadelphia!
After visiting the Roman Theater, we took a long journey north to the city of Jerash. What I found interesting about my journey from Amman to Jerash was how close I passed to the Syrian border. The driver told me stories of how it used to be for Jordanians crossing to Syria for a day of fun. Now it’s obviously a very different story. It is startling to think how quickly the world can change.
The Jerash Ruins (below) are said to be the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. I found them to be extensive and astonishing. The town passed around through the centuries to various masters and was deserted after a massive quake in the 700s. It took another 1,000 years for it to be inhabited again.
In Jerash, I enjoyed perhaps one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten: The Baba ghanoush at the Green Valley Restaurant. Creamy, flavorful and topped with the most tart and fresh olive oil I’ve ever had (and served with fresh bread out of the brick oven that is being handmade constantly). It’s a hole in the wall type place but nothing beats their food! I’ve yet to find Baba ghanoush since that was anywhere near as orgasmic.
During my stay in the city of Amman in Jordan I stayed at the Le Grand Amman hotel. To be honest, I was a little nervous when I first saw it as I’ve never stayed in a hotel with security screening and barricades out front before! However once inside, the staff and security couldn’t have been nicer. They were genuinely interested to know about me and my trip and were efficient and helpful.
The hotel was surprisingly large and well appointed. My room was large, clean and comfortable. The hotel lobby massive and stunning. Marble floors and ornate features adorned the place. Breakfast was especially memorable with fresh baked goods, a huge buffet and tons of local authentic foods to sample.
One dish I ran into at the hotel was Ful medames, or simply fūl. It’s basically cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin and a ton of other things optionally. When I had it, the Jordanian chef tossed in olive oil and green herbs and other spices. It was served out of a large metal container with a long ladle.