Jordan

With two of the most magnificent sights in the Middle East, namely the ancient city of Petra and Wadi Rum’s spectacular desert scenery, this ancient Arab kingdom is a hospitable land packed with epic scenery.

Jordan is one of the great cultural centres of the Middle East with a rich historical heritage and breathtaking geographical features. With its desert castles, Islamic architecture and biblical connotations, Jordan offers a truly magical experience. A good place to start is capital city Amman, where a unique blend of old and new buildings dot the skyline. Top restaurants and artisan workshops rub shoulders in a city where the past is never far away. The downtown area is much older and more traditional, the perfect place to treat your loved one to some unique silver jewellery. The ruins of ancient Amman at the Citadel, the Roman Theatre and the impressive National Archaeological Museum are a must if you are to immerse yourselves in this diverse city.

The ancient city of Jerash lies on a plain, surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins. The city’s golden age came under Roman rule and it is generally acknowledged as one of the best preserved Roman towns in the world. Beneath its Graeco-Roman veneer of colonnaded streets, hilltop temples and spacious public squares, Jerash offers a subtle blend of East and West architecture, religion and language. The Jerash Festival held every July turns this ancient city into a cultural spectacular of folklore dancing, ballet and opera.

North-west of Jerash through a beautiful pine forest and olive groves is the town of Ajloun. The beautifully preserved Castle of Ajloun offers splendid views into the Jordan Valley.  Madaba is best known for its historically significant Byzantine era mosaics. Close by is Mount Nebo where you can drive the route that the prophet Moses was forbidden to travel on by the King of Edom. The sanctuary at Nebo is Moses’ memorial and the presumed site of his death. It has been the centre for pilgrimages since early Christian times and from its apex you are afforded spectacular views of the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea and the rooftops of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The ancient stronghold of Karak lies within the walls of the old city and is one of the highlights of Jordan. The castle dominates the town and is where the crusaders and Islamic Armies had their legendary battles.

The King’s Highway is one of Jordan’s most scenic roads, providing a rural glimpse of Jordan. Highlights of this route include the stunning Wadi Mujib, dubbed “Jordan’s Grand Canyon”.  One of Petra’s claims to fame is it featured in the final scene of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” but the real joy of this place is wallowing in its beauty of vast rock formations and carved canyon walls. Indulge your taste for adventure in Wadi Musa. The Rum Visitor Centre permits you to travel deep into the desert for walks, sunset views and overnight camping. Wadi Rum is still the preserve of the Bedouin and their low black goat-hair tents can be seen dotting the landscape. During the First World War, T. E. Lawrence made his home in the valley and famously described Rum as ‘vast, echoing and God-like’.

The Dead Sea region provides the visitor with a plethora of choices, not least floating in the sea itself. This beautiful, dramatic area flanked by mountains to the east and Jerusalem to the west was once the home to five biblical cities including Sodom and Gomorrah. The Jordanian east coast of the Dead Sea has evolved into a major hub of both religious and health tourism. Excellent hotels with unrivalled spa facilities are available, although the sea itself with its healing and spiritual properties is the place to be.

Situated between Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Jordan is unexpectedly peaceful amid the turmoil of its neighbours and is a wonderful place to visit.

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