On the first full day of my Christmas in Petra tour, though we were in Amman, we drove a few hours north to visit some of Jordan’s most interesting Roman ruins. The first stop was Umm Qais, just a few kilometers from the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.
Just like the viewpoint at Mount Nebo (which I’d visit a few days later), the view from Umm Qais was impressive. In the distance were Israel, the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee, Lebanon and Syria. The Roman ruins are interesting, but the panoramic viewpoint was even more so. The ruins at Umm Qais, however, included a paved street & colonnade (where the old market shops would have been) as well as a small theater.
Umm Qais’ Roman ruins couldn’t compare to those at Jerash, however.
Jerash, called by some the “Pompeii of the Middle East,” the ancient Greco-Roman city is truly spectacular. You first enter Jerash at Hadrian’s Arch, followed by another colonnaded street until you reach several large temples, and eventually a theatre. There’s also a hippodrome where you can ride in a chariot, but that seemed too touristic to me. The main theatre at Jerash is what you’re there to see. It’s impressive and if you have the time (and energy) wander up and down all the corridors and the area behind. There are often performers (I saw some guys playing Jordanian bagpipes) in the theatre which really makes the ancient city come alive.
Many visitors to Jordan may just be there to visit Petra, but taking the day to visit Jerash is well worth the trip.
For more information on Jordan, click here.