What To Expect
Amman, the modern capital of Jordan, is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world. Recent excavations have uncovered homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age. With many references to it in the Bible, Amman was known as Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites, it was also referred to as the "City of Waters."
In the 3rd century B.C., the city was renamed Philadelphia after the Ptolemaic ruler Philadelphus. The city later came under Seleucid as well as Nabataen rule, until the Roman General Pompey annexed Syria and made Philadelphia part of the Decapolis League - a loose alliance of initially ten free city-states under overall allegiance to Rome. Under the influence of the Roman culture, Philadelphia was reconstructed in typically grand Roman style with colonnaded streets, baths, a theatre and impressive public buildings.
During the Byzantine period, Philadelphia was the seat of a bishop and therefore several churches were built. The city declined somewhat until the year 635AD. As Islam spread northwards from the Arabian Peninsula, the land became part of its domain. Its original Semitic name Ammon or Amman was returned to it.
Amman's modern history began in the late 19th century, when the Ottomans resettled a colony of Circassian emigrants in 1878. As the Great Arab revolt progressed and the State of Transjordan was established, King Abdullah I, the founder of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, made Amman his capital in 1921. Since then, Amman has grown rapidly into a modern, thriving metropolis of well over a million people.
Towering above downtown Amman, the ancient Citadel is a good place to begin a tour of the archaeological sites of the city. It is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon and excavations there have revealed numerous Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic remains.
The Roman time public square bordered by the Roman Theatre and the Odeon once was among the largest of the Empire (over 100 x 50 meters). A row of columns in the front of the theatre is what remains of the colonnades which once flanked it.
An imposing monument set into the side of the mountain. Its 33 rows of seats can accommodate almost 6000 spectators. The theatre, which dates back to approximately the mid-2nd century AD, comes back to life with musical and dance performances held regularly under the moonlit summer skies.
Adjacent to the theatre and set on the east side of the Forum is the Odeon. It dates back to the 2nd century AD. The lower seats of this monument, which could accommodate up to 500 spectators, have been restored and the Odeon is used occasionally for concerts.
A short stroll away, through the throbbing streets of the heart of downtown Amman with its colorful souk, is the Grand Husseini Mosque. The Ottoman style mosque was rebuilt in 1924 on the site of an ancient mosque, probably also the site of the cathedral of Philadelphia.
Hotel pick-up and drop-off
Tips and gratuities
Children below 3 years old are free of charge provided they are accompanied by 1 paying adult.
Tour duration is between 4 to 6 hours.
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