Less than an hour north of Amman will transport you 2000 years back in time in the marvelous ancient city of Jerash
one of the largest and most well preserved sites of the Roman Decapolis.
Jerash, located 48 km north of Amman and nestled in a quiet valley among the mountains of Gilead,
is the grandeur of Imperial Rome being one of the largest and most well preserved sites of Roman architecture in the World outside Italy.
To this day, its paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theaters, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates remain in exceptional condition.
This fascinating city makes a great day-trip from Amman, particularly in spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom.
The drive will take you less than an hour, but will transport you 2000 years back in time.
Jerash has a year-round supply of water,
while its altitude of 500 meters gives it a temperate climate and excellent visibility over the surrounding low-lying areas.
The history of Jerash is a blend of the Greco-Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab Orient.
The earliest Arabic/Semitic inhabitants named their village Garshu.
The Romans later Hellenised the former Arabic name into Gerasa.
the Arab and Circassian inhabitants of the small rural settlement transformed the Roman Gerasa into the Arabic Jerash.
Top things to do in Jerash
1. Temple of Artemis
Dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting and fertility and the daughter of Zeus and Leto.
this temple was built between AD 150 and 170.
flanked by 12 elaborately carved Corinthian columns (11 still stand).
The whole building was once clad in marble, and prized statues of Artemis would have adorned the niches.
If still in use by the 4th-century, the temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.
In the early 12th century the temple was converted into a fortress by a garrison stationed in the area by the Zahir ad-Din Toghtekin.
Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, captured and burned the fortress in CE 1121-1122.
The inner faces of the temple walls still clearly show the effect of the great fire.
The South Theater Built during the reign of Emperor Domitian.
the South Theater can seat more than 3000 spectators.
The first level of the ornate stage, which was originally a two-storey structure, has been reconstructed and is still used today.
The theater’s remarkable acoustics allow a speaker at the centre of the orchestra floor
to be heard throughout the entire auditorium without raising his voice.
Two vaulted passages lead into the orchestra, and four passages at the back of the theater give access to the upper rows of seats.
Some seats could be reserved and the Greek letters which designate them can still be seen.
4. Hadrian’s Arch
The arch of Hadrian was located 460 m southward of the main Southern Gate of the city of Gerasa.
it consists in a rectangular structure, 21 m high, with three arched gateways.
The arch is characterize by a dual facade, looking north towards the city, and southward towards the road.
The two facades were similar, albeit not identical in their architectural details.
The central archway is larger and higher than the two flanking ones.
Four huge Corinthian columns frame the facade.
Each column stands on a pedestal and a base, which is topped by a decoration of acanthus leaves.
Jerash’s superb colonnaded cardo maximus is straight in the way that only a Roman road can be.
This is one of Jerash’s great highlights, and the walk along its entire 800m length from North Gate to the forum is well worth the effort.
Built in the 1st century AD and complete with manholes to underground drainage, the street still bears the hallmarks of the city’s principal thoroughfare, with the ruts worn by thousands of chariots scored into the original flagstones.