A Beginner's Guide to Jordan's Rich Cultural Heritage | HolidayIQ Blog
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A Beginner's Guide to Jordan's Rich Cultural Heritage

Looking for a place that will quench your thirst for knowledge about ancient history and civilizations? Well, you are in luck for Jordan seems to be tailor made for you. A potpourri of preserved culture, it’s the perfect place to travel across the sands of time.

Right from UNESCO World Heritage sites like Petra and a port city that used to be a trade channel to the far east to ancient Roman cities that reveal the majesty of the Roman empire, Jordan is imbibed with remnants of a glorious past, stitching together varying cultures and civilizations. So go ahead and get a taste of Jordan’s rich past.

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Want to explore a civilization through baths, temples, tombs and a 1st century monastery? Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, seems to exist for that very purpose. One of the most popular tourist sites in Jordan, Petra is testimony to the riches of the Nabataeans, an Arab tribe with a 2000 year legacy.

Just last year a massive monument was uncovered near the city center in Petra. As big as an Olympic-size pool, this ceremonial platform is the second largest elevated display area to be uncovered at the site!

Al-Khazneh, better known as the Treasury, is one of the most photographed and breathtaking places in Jordan. What makes the sight of the grand facade even better is the one kilometre journey one must take through the narrow gorge surrounded by 200 m high, brilliant red walls on both sides. If you love capturing history through a shutter, Petra is a dream come true for you.

Known as the white city, Amman is probably one of the most important places to understand Jordan’s history, administration and culture on accounts of being the modern and the ancient capital of Jordan. Punctuated with a host of historical sites, many of which are in the process of being excavated, Amman is a showcase of the Roman and Arab Islamic ages.

The 6000 seat Roman theatre is one of the many famous structures that dot the historic Citadel. Situated among 19 hills, or jebels, Amman also houses some of the most important museums in Jordan like the Jordan Archaeological Museum. If a crash course in Jordan’s history is what you are looking for, Amman is the place to be!

Perched on a hilltop, Ajlun Castle, is probably one of the most impressive castles of Jordan. A stunning sample of Islamic architecture, the monument was famed to have dominated a large part of the northern Jordan valley.

It also served as an important point in a string of fortresses that passed signals (as lit beacons) till as far as Cairo. Comprising of ancient galleries, staircases and formidable towers, the castle is definitely the best place to get picture-perfect views of the Jordan valley.

Probably the most popular tourist destination in Jordan after Petra, Jerash is considered by many to be one of the best preserved Roman towns on the face of the Earth. A medley of the ancient Greco-Roman and the Arab cultures, Jerash boasts of the region’s earliest settlements dating back right to the Bronze Age (3200 B.C.-1200 B.C.).

Inscriptions from the time of Alexander the Great can be found here along with some exquisitely preserved Roman architecture that led to it being referred to as the ‘Pompeii of the Middle East’.

The ruins of these ancient empires are in impeccable condition owing to the strict non-encroachment policy. With structures like the Oval Forum, the hippodrome and the Temple of Artemis, Jerash is the best place for people interested in ancient Grecian and Roman cultures.

Tired of all the sand and mountains? What you need is a visit to the only coastal city in Jordan, Aqaba. Largely restructured by the 16th century Mameluks, it was one of the most important trading points in Jordan. Known as Ayla in ancient times, Aqaba finds a mention in many historic texts. The history of trade in Aqaba dates back to as early as 600 B.C. when the Babylonians took it over.

Even Greeks around 300 B.C. considered it one of the most important trading cities in the Arab world. Its importance became more pronounced by the fact that it was a connecting point for three continents - Asia, Europe and Africa.

Now sprawling with a chain of luxury hotels, Aqaba is popular for its coral reef, which houses one of the best diving spots in the world. If you are looking for a deviation from the usual landscape of Jordan, Aqaba is the destination.

One of the most important sacraments of Christianity, this is the site where Jesus of Nazareth is believed to have been baptised by John the Baptist. Comprising of a baptismal pool, hermit caves, a monastery, churches and chapels that were later constructed, there is quite a lot to take in here!

Archaeological evidence here points to the practice of baptism as early as the 4th century. Being an important UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jordan, this is something you should not miss.

Jordan gives you the chance to steep yourself in history that has shaped the world we live in today. The rich culture will draw you in, and the plethora of things to do will make you never want to leave. And for all you history-junkies, it is pure heaven!

The views above are collated from opinions expressed by travellers on www.holidayiq.com

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