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Exploring Northern Jordan | travel-europe-tips Journey Weblog – Travel Europe Tips

Exploring Northern Jordan | travel-europe-tips Journey Weblog

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

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

Exploring Northern Jordan: Amman, Madaba and Jerash

Recognized to the traditional Greeks as ‘Philadelphia’, Amman, Jordan’s capital, is filled with historic ruins, and genuine markets. I spent a month in Amman learning Arabic final January, and ventured down from Jordan College into the Wasat Balad (Amman’s outdated city middle) each likelihood I received.

Under are a few of my planning ideas, 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 move 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 all the pieces!

I’d extremely suggest staying within the outdated metropolis at one of many hostels there, as many of the websites and museums are concentrated on this space. The nicer motels and homestays are just a little exterior of the outdated city, however nonetheless shut sufficient. To get to the Wasat Balad from exterior of the outdated city, you’ll be able to take a shared taxi for simply 50 cents.

Doves flying over Amman’s metropolis middle


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 fill up on dried and recent fruit, particularly dates and figs! The recent plums and apricots are undoubtedly a few of the greatest I’d ever had, and there are additionally plenty of selfmade jams and preserves on the market which make nice items and souvenirs.

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

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

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

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

Along with the produce market, there’s a gold/jewellery souk, and a clothes souk as properly. Be sure you discount, as costs within the souk rely solely on what you’re keen to pay. Generally, Jordan could be dear, 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 town.

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

The Temple of Hercules, Amman Citadel

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

Rainbow Avenue (Shariya al-Rainbow)

This avenue and the encircling space is a dearer, expat and hipster space with cafes, file shops, picture galleries, and vintage bookshops. Hang around on Rainbow avenue lengthy sufficient and chances are you’ll catch wind of an underground occasion, 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 undoubtedly price 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-Jap nation I visited on the time, and it was a very helpful 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 town and the Citadel are unbelievable.

The surreal Abu Darwish mosque

On the prime, 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 individuals 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 price 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 have to enter with a Jordanian should you’re a non-muslim. However should you’re inquisitive about going inside, most mosque-goers will you invite you.)

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 exterior of Italy and Greece. For my part, visiting Gerasa, Jerash’s outdated metropolis, was a good higher expertise.

The outdated 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 stay exhibits in Gerasa, and some occasions a 12 months there are jousting matches. I did the dabke, a Levantine circle-dance, with some traditionally-clad employees whereas bagpipers performed some people tunes… it was a variety of enjoyable.

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


Madaba (1 hour away by bus)

Solely 1hr away from Amman through public transit, Madaba boasts Greek mosaic flooring maps and historic church buildings. I visited for simply at some point, 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 just lately married Herodias, Salome’s mom, who had beforehand been the spouse of his brother Herod II (the Romans weren’t so artistic with names).

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

So, John the Baptist was beheaded.

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

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

Mount Nebo

A brief cab trip 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 prime of the mountain. Entry to the exhibit is included within the small entry payment to the park.

Within the Bible, it’s stated that as Moses was main the Jewish folks via the desert, he appeared 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 delightful nation to go to, wealthy in Biblical, Greek, Roman, and Arab historical past. Every week on this nation could be an ideal period of time to see the entire 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):

  • Hey (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…
  • Bathroom: 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 converse English?(dialect) Biteki Englizia?
  • I’m a vegetarian: Ana nebehti

Taxi phrases and etiquette: Jordanian dialect

  • Whenever 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 lots: 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 buddy, a gaggle tour to Jordan could possibly be the proper reply – serving to you to tick off all of the highlights, with a educated information and a variety of helpful inclusions! 


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