Amman is the capital and largest city in Jordan. A thoroughly modern city, it is nevertheless home to several historic sites of religious interest.
Essentially a modern city built of locally-quarried stone, Amman began to grow in the early 1920s when Emir Abdullah made it the capital of Trans-Jordan.
Amman's history, however, goes back many millennia. The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites, who for centuries fought the Israelites before falling under the yoke of the Assyrians.
Then, after a period of domination by the Nabataeans, the city became a great trade center in the Roman era and was renamed Philadelphia. It continued to prosper under the Omayyads after the Arab conquest in 635, but decline set in during the mid-8th century and Amman remained a backwater through the Ottoman era.
Today, Amman is a lively, modern city, the result of rapid development in the second half of the 20th century following the massive dispersals of the Palestinians after the wars with Israel.
The historic center is at the foot of the Citadel. Here you will find the El-Hussein Mosque, built in 1932, surrounded by the city's souk and ruins of Roman Philadelphia.
The Roman Theater, with a seating capacity of about 6,000, was built around 170 AD. Located on Jabal al-Qala'a, near the center of downtown Amman, it is the most famous and easily accessible of the city's ancient sites. The theater was restored in the late 1950s and is now used for special events and performances. It is open from Wednesday to Monday from 9am to 5pm
The Museum of Folklore, Costume, and Jewelry is part of the restored theater complex. It has a good display of Jordanian embroidery, traditional costume, Bedouin jewelery and mosaics from sites such as Jerash and Madaba.
The Citadel (El-Qala), on the hill facing the theater, can be reached by a very steep climb up Shabsugh Street. It is a good vantage point from which to view the hills and valleys of Jordan's capital. At the top are the ruins of a Roman templededicated to Hercules, built at the same time as the theater.
Also on the Citadel is the Archaelogical Museum of Jordan, which has an outstanding collection of material. The museum provides a comprehensive picture of human activity in Jordan from the Neolithic era up to the Byzantine period, and includes Nababaean artifacts from Petra and a collection of Dead Sea scrolls.
Not far from the museum is the Omayyad Palace (El-Qasr) completed around 750 AD. The enormous complex incorporates a whole, colonnaded Roman street and is through to have comprised administrative offices as well as the residence of Amman's local governer.
Among the broad avenues of the modern city the large, blue-domed El-Malek Abdullah Mosque, built in 1990, and the Royal Cultural Center, which hosts exhibitions and cultural events.
The King’s Highway
There are two routes connecting Amman with the south of Jordan: the Desert Highway and the King’s Highway. If your time is limited, use the straighter and faster Desert Highway. However, by far the more interesting route is the King’s Highway, which twists and winds its way through the heart of Jordan, connecting Madaba, Karak, Tafileh, Shobak and Petra. The King’s Highway is the world’s oldest continuously used communication route, and is mentioned early in the Bible. In Numbers 20, Moses requests the king of Edom to allow his people to "travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory."