At the end of our trip to Jordan, we spent a few days in the capital city, Amman. We didn’t have any desire to attempt driving in Amman, so we dropped our rental car off at the airport, and the the hotel/hostel we had booked for Amman arranged a shuttle to pick us up from the airport (and by shuttle, I mean a regular sedan that really didn’t fit all of us, so N & L were buckled together, C was in the middle of the backseat not buckled at all, and A was the only one safely buckled into a seat in the back).
Our hotel in Amman was an interesting place. It had a hostel-like environment, offered tours, had a restaurant, and included a roof-top seating area and a menagerie of animals. The rooms were decent, though spartan, but overall it was well located and well priced.
Amman Walking Tour
The first thing we did in Amman was take a free guided tour of the city (well technically, that was the next morning – the real first thing we did the evening we arrived was eat dinner at the hotel, which seemed to have given C a bit of food poisoning (creamy chicken pasta was maybe not the right meal choice). We set out around 11am with about 10 other people, and our guide, born and bred in Amman. He walked us through the streets of the old town and the local markets. It was a good introduction to the city, and helped us get our bearings.
After our tour, we hung out in our hotel for a while (while C worked on recovering from his food poisoning), then stopped by Hashem, a famous local restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. The restaurant can get packed, so going in between mealtimes was a great way to get in. The meal was really good, and inexpensive. Poor C didn’t eat much, but we decided we would go back again!
After lunch/dinner (linner?), C rested some more and we hung out on the roof of our hotel, to enjoy the city views, and the WiFi, which only worked in the public areas.
The next morning, we set out to see the sights of Amman, heading first to the Roman Amphitheater that was located in the center of the old town, and just across from our hotel.The Roman Amphitheater is cut into one of Amman’s many hills, and has been restored (with some pretty obvious non-authentic restorations), and even has concerts and events in the summer. The Amphitheater dates back to the 2nd century AD, back when Amman was the Roman town of Philadelphia.
There were also a couple of little (free) museums within the amphitheater complex, including some traditional costumes and life-sized dioramas of Jordanian home life through history.Directly after leaving the Amphitheater, we headed across the street (braving lanes of crazy traffic, as always) to climb a set of stairs that would eventually take us to Amman’s most famous site, the Citadel, perched on the highest hill of Amman.This strategic location has been used for thousands of years, and contains ruins dating back to the Bronze and Iron age, as well as all successive civilizations. It is considered to be among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places.
Temple of Hercules
One of the highlights of the Citadel was the Roman-era Temple of Hercules. Though in ruins now, even the few remaining pillars cut an impressive image against the sky.
Another famous structure is the Umayyad Palace, about 500 years younger than the Temple of Hercules, and though in ruins, is still an impressive site.
Though part of the palace still has a roof, the back contains just parts of walls, and the boys had a blast playing hide-and-seek in them, maybe hundreds of years after the original inhabitants’ children did the same!After our visit to the Citadel, we continued our exploration of Amman, walking to the Wild Jordan Center for lunch. I had read that it was good, but honestly, it was just so-so. The drinks were good though!
With a late flight out of Amman, we spent our last morning visiting the fairly new Jordan Museum. With the long history of human occupation of this area of the world, you can imagine the fascinating things on display, including part of the Dead Sea scrolls. Interestingly, this was also one of the few places in the country where we saw women working.
That wraps up our time in Amman. I really enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city, and felt like it gave us a good authentic view of life in Jordan, outside of the heavily tourist places.