Jordan | Jerash


jerash, jordan, roman ruinsDespite having lived in Jordan for more than a year, there are quite a few archaeological sites and tourist attractions Kail and I have yet to visit. I visited Jerash for work a couple months after moving here (USAID funded the renovation of the Jerash Visitor Center as part of our broader support to Jordan’s tourism sector and economic growth), but it took several more months to make a return trip as a tourist. And then it took another several months for me to get around to writing about said visit.jerash, jordan, roman ruinsOval Plaza.Jerash is a sprawling archaeological site of very well preserved Roman ruins about 30 miles north of Amman. Nicknamed the “Pompeii of the Middle East,” Jerash comprises arches, two amphitheatres, a hippodrome, temples and a colonnaded forum.jerash, jordan, roman ruinsTemple of Zeus.Hat tip: Do not visit Jerash in late July, unless you want to know what it feels like inside an oven. It was hot. (Duh: Jordan is a desert!) One of us was like, We’ve lived in Jordan for 10 months and have never been to Jerash! We should go. And the other one agreed for some reason, so there we were.jerash, jordan, roman ruinsNorth Tetrapylon.You could easily spend a few hours touring Jerash, if you hired a tour guide or had a good guidebook with you. And if it wasn’t 100 degrees. So we spent probably an hour and a half walking very slowly and seeking shade behind columns.jerash, jordan, roman ruinsSouth Theatre.Jerash was inhabited in Neolithic times and settled as a town during the reign of Alexander the Great (333 BC), but it wasn’t until the Roman conquest in 64 BC that Gerasa (as it was then called) became part of the Roman province of Syria and later a city of the Decapolis. The city’s wealth continued to rise over the next couple centuries through trade. jerash, jordan, roman ruinsJerash reached its peak near the beginning of the third century, with 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, when it was made a Colony. An earthquake in the middle of the eighth century devastated the city, shrinking its population to about a quarter of its former size.It was mostly deserted for hundreds of years until its ruins were discovered and excavation and restoration began in the early 19th century. Circassians from Russia arrived in the late 19th century and the area’s population grew again.jerash, jordan, roman ruinsI learned none of this information on a tour, but from my Lonely Planet guidebook and Wikipedia. Comparing Roman ruins, I felt like there was more to see in Ephesus, but that might be because more of it has been excavated, preserved and developed for tourism — and because we visited Ephesus with a tour guide.Kail and I do plan to return to Jerash in more temperate weather (i.e. now), and combine it with a return trip to Ajloun (not for olive-picking this time, but to see Ajloun Castle). Have you ever visited Roman ruins?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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