For most people, Jordan is popular with Petra, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk the Siq strait on foot or on horseback and get the first glimpse of the Treasury, which Indiana Jones in his Last Crusade, is in the minds of most travelers.
Undoubtedly, the ancient capital of the Nabataeans is the jewel in Jordan's tourism crown, but Jordan's charms are far from being reduced just to Petra. Quite the opposite.
For many, Jordan is also identical to floating in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the Earth's surface, exploring the Wadi Rum Desert, the magical Lawrence of Arabia desert, traveling the immense King's Highway, visiting the Desert Castles and the fortresses of the crusaders, climb to Mount Nebo, the place where the prophet Moses first saw the Promised Land, visit the Jordan River, the place where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, peer into the glorious Roman ruins of Jerash and wander through the vibrant city of Amman.
Jordan occupies one perfect cut-out of the Arabian Peninsula. Sandwiched between the more tumultuous nations of contested Israel, Iraq, and Syria, it’s long been considered one of the rare stable enclaves of the region; one replete with mind-blowing UNESCO World Heritage Sites and totemic cultural hotspots – not least of all the carved ancient Nabatean ruins of Petra and the very site where Jesus Christ is thought to have been baptized!
Add in a deep, deep history going back thousands of years to the times of the earliest humans (archeological findings have suggested that even Neanderthal roamed these parts), and Jordan also begins to reveal its crumbling Roman cities, its exquisite Ottoman charm, those Persian treasures and Egyptian relics from long-gone dynasties.
Jordan Travel Information
Jordan isn’t all about touring the past though, and you’ll only have to look to the lively streets of Aqaba on the Red Sea for world-class diving, or the downtown areas of Amman – the capital – for a burgeoning nightlife scene and upcoming modern art to boot.
Let's discover the best places to visit in Jordan:
Deserved winner of the 7 Wonders elected in 2007, the incomparable Rose City is a source of mystery and wonder. Going to Jordan and not visiting Petra is almost a sin. But Petra is much more than the famous and iconic El-Khazneh, the Treasury, or the great Al-Deir, the Petra Monastery. Petra is a trip to the glorious time of the Nabataean people who built one of the greatest treasures of mankind: the Royal Tombs of Petra.
Entering the Wadi Rum desert is like entering another world. Or even, on another planet. It is not for nothing that Wadi Rum is also called the Valley of the Moon. In the vastness of the pink sands, monumental vertical rocks sculpted by time and elements rise. The landscape overwhelms us. With time and imagination, the rocks seem to come to life. A camel and a 4x4 ride are imperative. And watch the sunset in the desert too!
Amman is part of the number of the oldest cities in the world continuously inhabited. From the Neolithic to modernity, Amman has been known by several names such as Rabath, Ammon, and Philadelphia. The best thing about Amman is to wander through its streets and alleys, calmed by the sellers' auctions, the buzz of customers, the honking of impatient drivers, and the soothing sounds of the call to prayers. Of the monuments, Amman has the Amman Citadel, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Al-Husseiny Mosque, located in the heart of the old city.
Imagine an imperial metropolis lost among green hills and valleys whose strategic location has made it a prosperous and fundamental trading post in the Roman province of Arabia. That's Jerash! There is no shortage of buildings and places full of history to explore in Jerash. The top highlights are the imposing Arch of Hadrian, the Temple of Artemis, the Hippodrome, the Oval Forum, the Amphitheater, and the Temple of Zeus.
The Dead Sea, in addition to the dramatic beauty of the landscape, breaks some records: it is the lowest point on the Earth's surface (400m below sea level), and the salinity of the water is the highest in the world (33.7% of salinity, when the average is around 3.5%), is the largest source of natural salts on Earth (35 different types of mineral salts). It is due to these salinity properties that it allows anyone to float effortlessly.
Dotted the horizon of the eastern desert of Jordan, today there are the ruins of some “ castles ”. In fact, they are forts, palaces, lodgings, and baths that mostly date from the Umayyad dynasty and are located along the route that connected Syria to the interior of the Arabian peninsula. Among them, we highlight Qasr Kharana, Qusayr Amra, and Qasr Al-Azraq, famous for being the place where Lawrence of Arabia and his men were during the winter of 1917-18 during the Arab Uprising against the Turks. Qasr means a castle, and Qusayr means a slightly smaller castle.
Madaba and Mount Nebo:
The city of Madaba, home to the largest Christian community in Jordan, is located just 30km from Amman and its great highlight is undoubtedly the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George, where the famous map of the Holy Land is made in Byzantine mosaic. Just 10km from Madaba is Mount Nebo, the place where the prophet Moses first saw the Promised Land and where he died and was buried as believed.
Al-Karak is the name of a city in southern Jordan, best known for housing a pearl of Crusader engineering, the Kerak Castle. Any enemy that approached this defensive giant, had to doubt the possibility of conquering it. The fortress atop the southern end of the plateau whose rocky slope is in itself an insurmountable natural defense.
The mountain town of Ajloun is located about 75km northwest of Amman, in one of the coolest and greenest areas in all of Jordan (in winter it snows on these sides) and is known for its pine forests, the thousands of olive trees that decorate the hills and the many orchards and vineyards that dot the region. But it is the Castle of Ajloun that most take tourists to visit this region. This was built in the distant 12th century by Izz al-Din Usama, nephew of the famous Saladin, with the aim of protecting the region's iron mines and preventing attacks by the Crusaders who, at the time, were established further south, in the city from Kerak. Saladin also built a great citadel in Cairo known by the name Saladin Citadel, and the famous Alabaster Mosque of Mohamed Ali Basha was built inside later in 1805 to be one of the most beautiful imitations of Turkish architecture.