Pillars against the setting sun at Umm Qais

Umm Qais Tours and Travels

About Umm Qais

Tucked into the angle of borders formed by Jordan, Israel and the Golan, Umm Qais is the modern name for the site of the ancient Graeco-Roman town of Gadara, one of the cities of the Decapolis with panoramic views over the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. Gadara was renowned for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, attracting an array of writers, artists, philosophers and poets. It also served as a resort for Romans vacationing in the nearby al-Hemma hot springs. Gadara was blessed with fertile soil, abundant water and a location astride a number of key trading routes connecting Asia and Europe. The city thrived until the Byzantine era, which witnessed the decline of Gadara into relative obscurity. Earthquakes destroyed many buildings, and by the dawn of the Islamic era Gadara had become just another village.

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The town became known by the Arabic name Umm Qais during the middle Ages. Today a considerable portion of the original Roman amphitheatre has survived. The seats of the amphitheatre face west and would once have looked out onto the stage with the sunset providing a beautiful background. Next to the theatre is a colonnaded street that was likely the town’s commercial heart. Also near the black basalt theatre are the columns of the great Basilica of Gadara. Umm Qais, naturally, is home to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the Middle East. Finding a roof terrace is the best way to savour this spectacle especially the one at the privately owned restaurant ‘The Rest House’. With a view like this, a meal here is absolutely unforgettable.

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