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Jordan

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 magical experience.

A good place to start is Amman, the capital city 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 and is the perfect place to treat your loved one to some unique jewellery. Jordanians used to measure social status by how much silver a person owned and in general all the Bedouin people are proud of their silver work. 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. Darat al-Funun is the home for arts and artists not only for Jordan but the whole of the Arab world. Overlooking the heart of Amman this arts centre also contains a 6th Century Byzantine church built over a Roman temple.

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 also offers a subtle blend of East and West in terms of architecture, religion and language. The Jerash Festival held every July turns this ancient city into a cultural spectacular of folklore dancing, ballet and opera. And takes place in the dramatic floodlit surroundings of the Jerash ruins.

Just north-west of Jerash through a beautiful pine forest and olive groves is the town of Ajloun where Hadrian stayed in 129 AD. The Castle of Ajloun offers splendid views into the Jordan Valley. The castle today is beautifully preserved with its towers, chambers and galleries and sits in a beautiful setting surrounded by hills.

Jordanians used to measure social status by how much silver a person owned and in general all the Bedouin people are proud of their silver work.

The easy going town of Madaba is best known for its historically significant Byzantine era mosaics. As well as being the most important Christian centre in Jordan, it also offers top hotels and restaurants and can act as an alternative base to Amman. 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 and gives the visitor a rural glimpse of Jordan. Highlights of this route include the stunning Wadi Mujib dubbed “Jordan’s Grand Canyon” which provides a nice sojourn on the way to Petra.

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.

The village of Wadi Musa meaning the “Valley of Moses” is where you can enjoy the adventure of Jordan. The Rum Visitor Centre permits you to go into the desert in a 4WD where you are transported to the deep 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”. David Lean’s epic film about the exploits of Lawrence features many dramatic sequences that were shot in Wadi Rum. Rum valley is best experienced in the early morning or late afternoon when the lighting is at its best.

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 and wellness tourism. Excellent hotels with unrivalled spa facilities are available, although the sea itself with its healing and spiritual properties is the place to be. A diving trip to Aqaba is perfect for scuba enthusiasts.