Top 5 Things to See in Amman, Jordan
Visit the City on Seven Hills
Amman is the capital and the largest city in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. You can find Jordan in the Middle East, wedged between Israel/Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. While its surrounding countries may be experiencing some unrest, Jordan is a pillar of peace in the area. As you may know, the land in this region of the world holds much religious and historical significance and Amman is no exception. The city has record of Neolithic settlements dating back to 8,500 BCE. In the Bible the city is referred to as Rabbath and in Roman times it was called Philadelphia. Originally founded on seven hills, it has expanded to sit on more than twice that amount today. Amman is a beautiful desert city and has recently become home to many refugees, such as Palestinians, Iraqis, and Syrians. Despite the strains the increasing population places on their resources and the ongoing conflict in the region, Amman stands as a progressive, accepting, and bustling city.
Top Five Things to See:
The Citadel is also known as Jebel al-Qala’a and sits atop one of Amman’s many hills. Here you can find the ruins of the ancient city of Rabbath. For a fee the equivalent of $5 you have access to the remains of ancient times. You will discover columns that upheld a temple during their prime, remnants of a Hercules statue, and an Umayyad Palace. In addition, you will experience the best views of Amman. As you are on top of a giant hill, you are granted a 360 degree view of the city. This is a unique experience because, as the ruins are set against the backdrop of Amman today, you get to see the contrast of old and new. So grab some falafel and friends and head up to the Citadel for some history and an incredible panorama.
Expert Tip: Go right before sunset to encounter the most beauty!
In contrast to its ancient ruins, Amman has a new downtown hangout area on Rainbow Street. It is as lively and colorful as its name hints it to be. Here you can find coffee and hookah shops, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. It draws quite the young and hip crowd but is friendly to all. As work weeks in the Middle East range from Sunday to Thursday, if you head down to Rainbow Street on a Thursday night you will find it animated and with a considerable crowd. If you are there during the summer time, check out Souk Jara on a Friday to purchase some lovely handicrafts and don’t miss out on trying the watermelon juice!
Expert Tip: Along the way, check out Books@Cafe to find an all in one bookstore, coffee shop, and karaoke bar with an incredible view!
King Abdullah Mosque
This blue domed mosque is quite a beauty, and the only mosque in town that allows non-Muslims inside for a visit. If you are seeking to truly experience the religious aspect of the city, pay it a visit. The entrance fee of around $3 gets you access to the mosque, an Islamic museum, and the gift shop. Before you are allowed to enter the Mosque you are given a robe to wear that covers your clothing and has a hood for your head. The purpose of this is for modesty and respect, but it also adds to the experience. Once you are wearing the robe, you will remove your shoes and check out the prayer spaces. The largest prayer space can hold up to 7,000 people at a time. King Abdullah Mosque could not be more beautiful with its bright blue mosaics and atmosphere of worship. It would be a shame to miss it on your trip to Amman!
Expert Tip: Do not visit on Friday afternoons, as this is the time Muslims gather together for prayer and visits are not allowed.
This area is most commonly referred to as “Downtown” and is the oldest area in the city. It is here that you will find the most “Middle Eastern” vibes. Old Amman is home to tons of souvenir shops featuring traditional Jordanian attire, keffiyehs in all colors, and other trinkets. It is also here that you can find the Roman Theater, Al-Husseiny Mosque, and the best food in the whole city. Start your journey at Al-Husseiny Mosque. If you can catch it at a prayer time it is a magical experience. Hearing the call to prayer projected on loud speakers and seeing people stop what they are doing to observe it is so beautiful. After that, start walking down the street and peruse the plethora of shops along the way. Find yourself at Hashem Restaurant for the best hummus of your life. Finish your journey at the Roman Theater which is restored from the Roman times, when the city was referred to as Philadelphia. It is a fun place to grab a seat and watch the sunset with some friends.
Expert Tip: Check out Habibeh for an authentic (and dirt cheap) Arab dessert.
Weibdeh is the arts district of Amman. If you are looking for some free fun this is the place to be. Filled with art galleries and quirky shops, Weibdeh has a unique atmosphere to offer. It is located near a roundabout called Paris Circle which has a small garden and some benches to relax on. From there it is only a short walk to all the attractions. Weibdeh is a favorite spot for coffee shops. In Jordan they mostly drink Nescafe or Turkish coffee, but if you are ever craving a good ole’ American coffee check out the cafes in this area.
Expert Tip: Darat al-Funun is the best gallery for contemporary art!
Amman may not have been the first place you thought to travel to, but it is guaranteed to be and eyeopening and unforgettable trip. Make it your next destination!