After a night in a fine hotel in Madaba we set off to Jerash. We left our luggage here since we were coming back that night. It was about a 2 hour drive.
Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities outside of Rome. Over the next two centuries, trade with the Nabateans flourished and the city grew to be extremely wealthy, thanks to local agriculture and iron-ore mining.
The first thing you see and walk through is Hadrians arch. The arch was built in 129 AD for the important occasion of Emperor Hadrians visit.
The next is the Hippodrome. This ancient sports field once seated 15,000 spectators and hosted many athletics competitions and chariot races.
After here we made our way over to the Forum (a.k.a Oval Plaza). The Forum was served as a marketplace and was the main focus of the city’s social and political life.
The Plaza is made with extremely high quality limestone slabs. The Forum is surrounded by 56 Ionic, organ-pipe shaped columns. This was one of my favourite structures in Jerash.
After here we walked along the Cardo Maximus (the main trade route)route and saw a couple of ruined churches and the most interesting building along the Cardo Maximus was Nymphaem. This was the main ornamental fountain of the city.
Water would come over the facade into a large pool at the front, with the overflow pouring out through seven carved lion heads into drains that went into the street below.
It has a lovely pink-granite basin at its base which was probably added by the Byzantines.
We kept on walking to the North theatre. This theatre is said to have been used for government meetings rather than performances. It was only quite small but I preferred it more than the South theatre.
We turned our heads and marched on up the hill to the Temple of Artemis. Artemis was the god of hunting and fertility and was also the daughter of Zeus. They had to build 2 vaults (housing treasure) on north and south to make the courtyard level.
In 386 AD Theodorius destroyed the Pagan temples for materials to build new churches. The Byzantines converted it into a workshop for kitchenware and crockery. In the 12th century the temple was brought back to life as an Arab fortification but it was destroyed by the invading Crusaders.
So that temple wasn’t in it’s best form but it was worth seeing.
We headed towards the South theatre. On the way we saw these tiny baths scattered around an area. At one point they had a Roman Bath but once they turned to Christianity they built individual baths.
The Southern theatre was larger than the Nothern theatre and i think this one WAS used for performances. Here the “Jordanian Scottish bagpipe band” performed for us and a few other people. They performed Classic English tunes such as “Amazing Grace”.
We made our way to our last temple of the day, the temple of Zeus. From here you can get a great semi-panoramic view over the Oval Plaza and the Cardo Maximus.
It was great to imagine this city full of people and the life that has been lived here as we walk through my first Roman City.
The Citadel in Philadelphia.
After Jerash we drove through Amman to the Citadel. Amman is the capital city of Jordan. When Jerash was a Roman city, Amman was called Philadelphia.
The Citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman (about 850 meters above sea level). Artefact’s dating from the Bronze Age show that the Citadel could have been a a fortress or an agora (a place for politics) for thousands of years.
It was a very big fortress but most of the buildings were derelict but it was definitely worth seeing even if it was just for the view.
You could see most of Amman just from the top so we didn’t really need to go into the city. On the left there was a flag of Jordan which apparently stood at 270 meters high and 90 meters across (i think).
When we reached a view-point there was a stone above us with a design on it which made it look like a chair. TUT couldn’t see inside it. So he lifted Jed up and sat him in it
but unfortunately it had water inside so the baby was soaked. It definitely wasn’t funny at the time but it was funny afterwards.
Anyway Jed had to go home with no nappy and no pants apart from a sarong wrapped around him.
After the busy sight seeing today we were ready to go back to a comfortable bed waiting for us in Madaba but got stuck in horrendous traffic in the city centre.
The blog title Romamman comes from the film title Roman Holiday.