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Things to Know
If you’ve never visited the Middle East before, the young city of Amman is a perfect introduction to this fascinating part of the world. While it may lack some of the history and architectural complexity of other capitals in the region, Amman has a fascinating character all its own, combining a westernized outlook with Middle Eastern flair, delicious cuisine and welcoming locals. Amman is also a place where you can appreciate the different stages of the country’s evolution, with the earthy eastern Amman representing the traditional part of the city, while the dynamic and ever-expanding western Amman carves the path into the future. While Amman’s streets are brimming with mosques, souks, and coffeehouses so central to Jordanian life, the city is also emerging as a thriving center for the arts and culture, making it all the more worthwhile to spend some time getting to know the fascinating Jordanian capital.
Things to See
Jordan Museum
Located in Downtown Amman, this exceptional museum contains some 1.5 million years of Jordanian history and archaeology. One of the highlights of the museum is the display of some of the Dead Sea scrolls.
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
An intimate gallery that serves as a wonderful introduction into the world of contemporary Jordanian painting, sculpture, and pottery. It features art works from around the Middle East and the wider Muslim world while it also hosts interesting temporary exhibitions related to Islamic art.
The Roman Amphitheater
Built during the 2nd century, this Roman Amphitheater testifies to the significance of the Jordanian capital which was then known by the name “Philadelphia”. Divided into three horizontal sections, this remarkably well-preserved structure could seat up to 6000 people and is used as a venue for cultural activities to this day. On site you will also find the Jordan museum of Popular Tradition and the Jordan Folklore Museum.
Amman Citadel
Sitting on one of the seven hills that originally made up Amman, the Amman citadel is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Some interesting sites here include the Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church and the Umayyad palace.
Qasr Al Abad
Located some 10 miles outside the city of Amman, Qasr Al Abad is a large Hellenistic palace that dates back to the 2nd century B.C. Not much is known for sure about the precise history of this building, but it is believed that it is in some way related to a Tobiad notable, Hyrcanus of Jerusalem.
King Abdullah Mosque
Built between 1982 and 1989, the King Abdullah mosque is one of the most recognizable structures in Amman. Noted for its magnificent blue mosaic dome, this mosque functions as a place of congregation for over 3000 Islamic followers at a time.
Things to Do
Explore the Artsy Neighborhood of Jabal Aman
Located on one of the seven hills that originally made up the city of Amman, the old neighborhood of Jabal Amman is experiencing a creative boom and cementing its role as a center of the arts and culture in the Jordanian capital. Here you can explore several distinguished art galleries and studios like Nabad and Jacaranda, while the popular cobble-stoned Rainbow Street is an ideal place to soak up the unique energy of Amman and enjoy a bite to eat or a cup of coffee at one of the many restaurants and cafes located in the area.
Experience Bohemian Jordan at Jabal Al Weibdeh
Historically home to writers, artists, and left wingers alike, Jabal Al Weibdeh is one of the hippest and most progressive neighborhoods in Amman. The area’s old stone buildings contrast beautifully with the cool modern atmosphere of its streets, while its calm and laid-back character offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Amman. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the neighborhood’s quiet streets or spend some time at one of the area’s many restaurants and cafes on a lazy afternoon.
Visit Downtown Amman
As the oldest part of the city, Downtown Amman is home to several historical sites including the Umayyad Palace, the Roman Theater, and the Roman Nymphaeum. If you’re looking to learn about Jordan’s history and its people, a visit downtown is an absolute must. This is also the beating heart of Amman’s trading and commercial activity, so you’ll find plenty of shops and markets to browse through, as well as a number of specialty shops selling anything from handmade carpets and fabrics to gold trinkets, clothing and antiques.
Savor Local Cuisine
One of the highlights of traveling revolves around discovering new and exciting flavors in unfamiliar places. Other than being a delicious endeavor and a feast for the senses, exploring the culinary traditions of the country you’re visiting also offers unique insight into the culture and history of its people. Interestingly, Jordanian cuisine owes several of its staple dishes to its geographical location in the Levant. North African, Middle Eastern, Persian, and Mediterranean influences have played a big role in shaping Jordan’s culinary repertoire, and you can look forward to exploring all its different permutations at Amman’s many restaurants.
Discover Amman’s Art Galleries
Overall, Jordan may be better known for its rich history and otherworldly landscapes than for its thriving art scene, but Amman breaks the mold with a substantial selection of excellent galleries and several examples of impressive street art. Most galleries are located within the artistic neighborhoods of Jabal Aman and Jabal Al Weibdeh, and are mainly focused on contemporary Middle Eastern art.
Day Trip to the Dead Sea
Located within an hour’s drive from the Jordanian capital, the Dead Sea makes for an ideal day trip option if you’re looking to escape the city’s buzz. At over 1400 feet below sea level and with a salinity level that is almost ten times that of the world’s oceans, the Dead Sea is officially the lowest point on earth and its fifth saltiest body of water. Famous for the therapeutic properties of its mineral rich mud, at the Dead Sea you can sit back and enjoy a rejuvenating mud bath or spend some time hiking and biking around this extraordinary landscape. Whatever you choose, visiting the Dead Sea is an experience you won’t soon forget.