Jerash is an incredible fusion of Greco-Roman and Oriental influences. A perfect place to visit in spring with beautiful hills and lush greenery, Jerash has a rhythm that is not seen anywhere else in Jordan. In addition, Jerash hosts the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts every year, a three-week summer program full of folk dances, music, and theater performances.
The second only after Petra among Jordan's favorite destinations, we find the ancient city of Jerash, characterized by an uninterrupted history of human settlements dating back more than 6,500 years ago. The golden age of the city was under Roman rule and the site is now generally recognized as one of the best-preserved cities in the Roman province in the world.
Hidden for centuries in the sand before being excavated and restored in the last 70 years, Jerash reveals one of the best examples of the majestic urban structure typical of the Roman provinces among those present throughout the Middle East; here you can admire cobbled streets and colonnades, temples on top of the hills, beautiful theaters, large public squares and forums, bathrooms, fountains and city walls where towers and doors alternate. Under the external Greco-Roman facade, Jerash also retains a subtle blend of east and west. Its architecture, religion, and languages reflect a process by which two powerful cultures mixed and coexisted: the Greco-Roman world of the Mediterranean basin and the ancient traditions of the Arab East.
You will immediately be stunned by the imposing Hadrian's Arch, constructed in 129 A.D in celebration of Emperor Hadrian's visit to the great city. It had been designed to be the new southern entrance to the metropolis with the widening of the walls, but the work was never finished.
On the right stands the racecourse, an arena for racing, gladiator fights and other sporting events with a capacity for 15,000 spectators. Currently, a company of actors takes the tourist to relive these times with regular representations.
At the south entrance, the ruins came to life. Four entrances with richly decorated arches of triumph, and an extensive wall with about 3.5 km of perimeter punctuated by twenty watchtowers, give an image of the size of this metropolis.
The Oval Forum is considered an icon of Jerash because its oval shape is not common. This was the heart of this city's social and political life. Surrounded by 56 impressive columns, most of them in original condition, and paved with the best quality limestone. Interestingly, the slabs are larger on the outer perimeter and become smaller and smaller as we approach the center.
The Temple of Zeus, on the right, once had a magnificent staircase leading to the sacred altar at the top of the hill. From the excavations carried out, one can guess the monumentality of this temple, visible from the whole city. Its location, however, made it exposed to corrosion and earthquakes and today it is a small sample of its greatness.
Right behind, the great amphitheater of Jerash rises in majesty and good condition with its two floors and capacity for 5000 spectators. You can witness a surreal performance; try to imagine Jordanian military costumes combined with the sounds of a Scottish bagpipe!
Most of the visitors mention that the acoustics are fabulous. You can also see the “microphone” of this former performance hall. And by opening your eyes wide, you can still notice the mark engraved on the pavement stone.
The arch of triumph with four pillars, crossing where the 4 entrances of the city were seen, you will find the colossal fountain of the city, Nymphaeum, richly decorated in marble and painted stucco, glimpse the Christian and Byzantine churches that replaced Roman temples.
Then comes the monumental entrance to the Temple of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. The portico has been restored over the years, and even in Cardo the original stones already recovered are in order.
The Temple of Artemis was considered the most beautiful and richest temple in the entire city of Jerash; of the 12 gigantic columns, 11 are still standing with their Corinthian capitals. Those tons of stone can be moved with just the strength of an arm, that's what your guide will warn about.
A series of earthquakes in the 8th century reduced the city to ruins. The desert sands tried to submerge it over the following centuries. But this “burial” in the desert currently justifies the impressive state of conservation.
A well-traveled bridge between sea and desert, east and west, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a land of mesmerizing beauty and contrasts, from the Jordan Valley, fertile, ever changing, to the remote desert canyons, immense and still. Visitors can explore splendid desert castles, gaze in awe at the haunting wilderness of Wadi Rum, or bathe in the restful waters of the Red Sea.
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