Amman has been around ever since man settled and built communities. It is one of the world’s few continuously occupied cities. It would be true to say that this wonderful city has seen it all and been close to the centre for much of human history.
There are many splendid remnants of this cities long and colourful existence. For a visitor that this is wonderful. Like Rome, Amman was built on seven hills; however it has grown to take in 19 today! Amman’s great feat has been to incorporate and blend the ancient with the modern.
Amman is a hilly city with traditionally white stone houses, kebab stalls and tiny cafés perched along steep, winding cobbled stoned streets. The area evokes imagery from Arabian folk tales. It is also a city of towering, shimmering, glass skyscrapers, modern thoroughfares and brightly lit shopping malls.
The part that attracts the visitor is the el-Balad (downtown eastern Amman). It is the older part of the city and the location holds many historical attractions. Here one will find the Citadel on Amman’s highest hill, this is the location of ancient Rabath-Ammon and many other buildings within its walls. The hill has been used for thousands of years stretching back beyond the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Remnants of Roman and Byzantine periods are plentiful. The most impressive building is the 8th century Umayyad Palace. Another building of interest is the National Archaeological Museum, which houses artefacts from every civilisation and period of Amman’s past. It is also the home of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. Just to the north of the museum are the striking pillars of the Roman Temple of Hercules.
Another dramatic structure in Downtown Amman is the Roman Theatre. It is cut and built into the hillside. It is huge with a capacity for 6,000 people and its magnificent acoustics allow spectators sitting in the highest seats (still called “The Gods”) to hear even a whisper of the actors below. It is still occasionally used for performances.
Not to be missed is the striking blue-domed King Abdullah I Mosque. It is the only mosque in Amman where non-Muslims are welcome. Another lovely mosque, in the western part of Amman, is the King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque. It is a wonderful example of modern Islamic architecture. Besides the rich vein of historical and archaeological sites there are plenty of art galleries and antique shops.
The Western section of Amman is a lively, modern city with shopping malls. Amman is also one of the emerging world cities with an unrivalled economic growth index and multinational corporate activity.
Added to her attractions, the city enjoys a relatively temperate climate with September probably the best time to visit.
Once you have had your fill of Amman city there are other amazing places, close by, that are must-see. The likes of Petra, the Dead Sea, Bethany (site of Jesus’ baptism), the gorgeous Wadi Rum, Jerash and Pella are also worth a trip.