Amman is the capital city of Jordan in the Middle East. Amman offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Roman Amphitheatre
- King Abdullah I Mosque
- Amman Citadel and Temple of Hercules
- Day trip to the desert castles of Jordan
- Quseir Amra UNESCO world heritage site
After arriving in Amman I organized a taxi with the Rumman hotel to pick me up and take me to their hotel in the nearby city of Madaba. The real advantage of staying at the Rumman hotel is that they offer great value, reliable tours to;
- Aqaba via wadi Araba
- Mount Nebo, Bethany and the Dead Sea
- Desert Castles
- Jerrash and Ajlun
- Hammamat Ma’in and the Dead Sea
Madaba is also a peaceful city in which to stay with a variety of great restaurants and shops all within walking distance.
On the outskirts of Amman in Jerash you’ll find the Roman city of Gerasa, which for me was more impressive than the Colosseum in Rome. Gerasa is a huge site and it will take a few hours to appreciate the whole city. Gerasa dates back over 5000 years to long before the era of the Roman Empire. You are free to explore all over the northern theater and if it’s not too hot you can take a few moments to sit down and appreciate the history of the structure. At the top of the northern theater you’ll get a great landscape shot of Gerasa and Jerash (below).
The oval forum and cardo maximus of Gerasa is a view to behold, it is considered to be the best preserved Roman city in the region. Whilst walking the cardo maximus you are exposed to the hot sun, don’t forget you’ll need sunscreen, water and a hat. You’ll pass plenty of street vendors at the entrance selling these necessary items.
In Eastern Jordan, close to the Saudi Arabia border is the Qasr Kharana desert castle. Such a simple, yet beautiful castle and the fact that it’s located in the middle of the desert makes it extra special. I found Qasr Kharana to be the most interesting and beautiful of the desert castles, however it does not have a UNESCO status.
The Quseir Amra desert castle is a UNESCO world heritage site which dates back to the 8th century. This is the most famous of the desert castles but what you’ll visit is not actually the castle (pictured above). This is a royal retreat, the castle is now only foundations and a little disappointing.
The Qasr Azraq desert castle is a fortress located outside the city of Azraq. The fortress was built here because there is a nearby oasis, the only water source for 10,000 square kilometers. What impresses mot people about this fortress is that Lawrence of Arabia used this as his desert headquarters in the winter of 1917. You can visit the office of Lawrence of Arabia near the entrance to the fortress.
On the drive from Amman to Petra there are a choice of routes, the Kings highway or the Dead Sea highway. I recommend persuading your driver to take the Dead Sea highway and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the Dead Sea. I’m sure you can persuade the driver to stop at some points along the Dead Sea route too, these guys are very keen for tips. It takes about 3 hours to reach Petra, add another hour if you take the Dead Sea route.