Jordan, Adventure with no Limits
The ancient Nabataea city of Petra, excavated in the rock a thousand years ago, has been the most famous image of Jordan for a long time. Although Petra is of the most impressive attractions of the Near Orient, Jordan holds much more attractions for the tourist today.
As a well founded bridge between the sea and the dessert that joins the east with the west, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a land of captivating beauty and contrasts: from the fertile and always changing Valley of the Jordan, to the los canyons of the remote desert, immense and intemporal. The visitors may explore incredible castles in the desert; observe the magnificent beauty of the desert of Wadi Rum or taking a bath in the relaxing waters of the Red Sea.
The adventure lovers may choose from horse back rides, safaris in 4x4 vehicles, climbing, rappel and biking. If what you are looking for is relaxation, there is nothing comparable to the Red Sea and its numerous spas.
The king Abdullah I founded Jordan just as we know it today after the First World War. It was governed by his grandson king Hussein for 46 years until his death in the year 1999, when his son, the king Abdullah II assumed the throne.
Jordan has developed until it becomes a modern nation that has enjoyed peace, stability and an economic growth in the last decades.
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is located about 40 kilometers to the north of the Dead Sea and settled over several hills of little rise. The most ancient remains that have been found go back to approximately 3000 years b. C., when it was he capital of the ammonites to which they called Rabbah. After its conquer by the king Tolomeo II Philadelfus of Egypt, the city was named in his honor ‘Philadelphia’. The city disappeared practically towards the year 1300 for unknown causes and was rebuilt by the ottomans in 1878.
Petra is, without a doubt, the most extraordinary city that is visited in Jordan and its only vision already justifies a trip. For hundreds of years, the place was jealously guarded and watched for Bedouin tribes, due it was considered a sacred place. Furthermore, they had the strong believe that the place hide multiple treasures.
The only treasure in Petra is Petra itself: the funerary monuments, the temples, the magnificent theater built by the nabateos for 3,000 spectators and enlarged by the Romans until 7,000, the symbol of the supreme god Dusares, represented with the rocks without carving, because the rock was.
Jerash is located 50 kilometers north of Amman and its lineage goes back to the Decapolis, league of the ten cities, established by the Romans in the year 63 b. C. Is the roman city best preserved and, after Petra, the major attraction that Jordan offers the visitor. Its ruins were discovered in 1806 and, since then, successive excavations have let exposed many of its architectural treasures, although, it’s considered that over the 80 percent of this city is yet to be discovered.
This is a wonderful place, in which it seems that the time has stopped, practically unaltered by men and its destructive forces. Here, the water and wind have cut the majestic and sublime skyscrapers, that with so much elegance described T.E. Lawrence: “Immense, solitaire... as touched by Gods hand”.
A labyrinth of landscapes of monolithic rocks rises from the ground of the desert to the 1,750 meters tall, creating a natural challenge for the experimented climbers. The excursionists can enjoy the peace of the empty spaces and without limits, explore the canyons and the water reservoirs and discover the paintings on the stones that come from 4,000 years ago, besides other spectacular treasures that this impressive desert possesses.
Aqaba, located in the gulf of the same name in the Red Sea, is a small city of fishermen located in the bank of the Jordan River. Its port of deep waters is prior to, including, the time of the Romans and since then, as now, it was a center of rest due to its pleasant temperatures. The diving in the area and its extraordinary beaches are other attractions that this geographic spot offers. Ajlun and Umm Qais
Ajlun, located twenty kilometers of Jerash, also deserves to be highlighted. Its castle of Qalaat ar-Rabad, built by the Arabs to protect themselves of the crusades, is a fine example of the military Islamic architecture. Umm Qais possesses some interesting views above The Heights of Golan and the Galilee. At 10 kilometers is Al-Hemma, which has a well known roman baths.
Without no doubt, the most impressive place in the world, the Valley of Rift of Jordan, is a beautiful and dramatic landscape, that, in the Dead Sea, it is located over 400 meters under the sea level. Being the lowest point on the face of the earth, this extended extension of water is the final destiny of innumerable rivers, among in which the Jordan River is located. When the waters reach the Dead Sea they are surrounded by land and the have no way out, for which they evaporate leaving a dense and rich mixture of salts and minerals which give to the industry, agriculture and medicine some of its most exquisite products.
The Dead Sea is flanked by mountains to the east and to the west by the Jerusalem Hills which grant them a beauty almost from another world. Even though the area is not too populated and it is maintained in relative calm, it is believed that it was birth of five biblical cities: Sodom, Gomorra, Adama, Seboim and Segor.
As much as if approximates to Karak from the picturesque public road known as the Rosad of the Kings to the east or from the Dead Sea to the west, the majestic silhouette of this fortressed city and its castle will make you understand right away the motive for which the kings and nations fates were decided by this place.
The zone of Betania, next to the Jordan River, is being in the present time object of several archeological works to locate remains and constructions related with John the Baptist. A visit to the zone allows knowing the approximate place in which Jesus was baptized and the state of the excavations that are taking place. Besides you can contemplate the river that designates the actual frontier with the neighbor Israel.
At only 30 kilometers of Amman, by a road of 5,000 years old known as the Road of the Kings, we find one of the most memorable places of the Holy Land. After passing through a series of historical places, the first city to which you will arrive will be Madaba, known as the “city of the mosaics”.
Better known for its spectacular byzantine mosaics and omeyas, in Madaba is the famous mosaic map of Jerusalem and Holy Land of the VI century. Formed with two million pieces, made with local stones of lively colors, shows hills and valleys and villages and cities of the delta of the Nile.
The mosaic map of Madaba covers all the floor of the Greek orthodox church of Saint George, located to the northeast of the center of the city. The church was built in 1896, above the remains of a byzantine church prior to the VI century a. C. The mosaic panel that frames the map originally measured 15.6 x 6 m. about 94 m2 even though today only a quarter of the original mosaic is preserved.
Despite of the desert weather dominates in Jordan (extreme temperatures in summer and scarce rains), it may, nevertheless, appreciate certain regional differences. The oriental prairie, where the main cities are concentrated, offers, certainly, a less asphyxiating weather that the desert or the valley of the Jordan. The winter is short, with some rains, some temperatures near the 7 °C and cold winds. In Amman, where sometimes it snows, the diurnal temperatures oscillate between the 12, 6 °C in January and the 35 °C in August.
The spring and the autumn, when the temperatures are reasonable, are the best seasons to travel to Jordan. The low temperatures may be amazing in winter. It is not always recommended to travel during the Ramadan, which date varies, in general, between November and January.
To enter in Jordan is necessary to present the passport with a minimum validity of six months and obligatory visa t c may de issued in the embassy or in the same Jordan airport. It is not possible to obtain an entry visa to Jordan in none of the land border posts of the country. Those travelers going to Jordan and want to keep on traveling to other Arab countries must take a passport in which there are none Israeli stamps and have the entry visa required to those third countries granted before starting the trip.
Arrive first to the Siq. Nothing as getting into the defile of the Siq at dawn, in solitude and silence, before the tourists groups arrive. It gives an idea of the emotion that Burckhardt must have felt crossing this narrow rocky chink —infested of votive bas-relieves and dedicated to the God Dusares— and finding, after a kilometer walk, the surprise of the Treasure.
Have a coffee in front to the Treasure. It is difficult to find another terrace with most amazing views. The single post of beverages has in front one of the most amazing monuments of the world. Having something in a privileged place like this would cost in Europe three more times.
Colors. Red, ochre, bluish gray, white, yellow… up to nine tones may be extracted from the stones of Petra. In some facades and interiors of the temples and houses, the combination of colors in concentric circles creates iridescent shapes that have been inexhaustible poets’ inspiration.
Directionless. When the spectacular traditional schedule is accomplished, decide to go out of the obliged and make walks to the Nabateos Tunnel; by the Jebel al-Khubtha, above the Treasure; to the Altar of the Sacrifices; or for the wadis Muthlim and Siyagh, to enjoy of other landscaping perspectives where the majority of the tourists do not get to.
Late afternoon. A nice place to watch the sun set is sitting in the ruins of the Via of the Columns. From there, the panoramic view of the Facade of the Tombs and the Palace is magnificent. Furthermore, results amusing to observe the camel races that the guides arrange sometimes, raising clouds of golden dust.
Resonance. The stones return echoes of other centuries. Try to stay by yourself in the tomb called Tomb of the Urn and, for example, sing. Moreover, of verifying the resonance, you would have achieved enjoying a moment of solitude, which is not easy in Petra.
Bedouin smile. The deboul tribes, almmaren, al surur, al alayya, al albediyya or howeita offer the warmth Bedouin hospitality in all Petra’s area, and always willing to aid and guide the visitors. Up to the Monastery. The one hour walk to the colossal Monastery —with similar shapes as in the Treasure, but much bigger— is a sinuous route excaved in the rock, with over 800 steps. From there the magnificent scenery of cliffs and rivulets dominates.
Sand bottles. The typical memory of Petra is more special when you know the history of how it arises: Mohamed Abdullah Othman had 10 years when, in the sixties, was obsessed with crushing the color sandstones to extract sand tonalities and mix them, once and again, in the only crystal jar he had: a penicillin ampoule. Trying hundreds of times, finally he managed to form a camel with the help of a plastic straw. He spent 20 years perfecting his designs: palm trees, geometries or landscapes, and loading in his camel the bottles of the restaurant and the pensions of the neighbor village of Ma’an. He filled them with the draws he invented and then sold them to the scarce tourists in those days. Bottle to bottle, was the first Bedouin of Petra that bought a car. Today his brother Hussein Abdullah continues with the family art, in the collective post of the Sand Association, in Petra.
Repose in the Theater. The 33 rows of tiers of seats in red, gray and white colors of the theater of nabateos origin which the Romans enlarged are the perfect place for seating to take notes in your trip journal and relax.
The trip to Jordan invites to taste a huge variety of food. The national dish of the country is the ‘mansaf’, lamb cooked with yogurt and served on top of rice. The ‘musakhan’ is a dish based on roasted chicken with onions, pinions and olive oil, over Arab bread. The ‘maglouba’ has meat or fish mixed with vegetables and rice. The ‘sheish khabab’ pieces of lamb or chicken to the red-hot cole with onion and tomato.
There is a great offer of restaurants that serve authentic Arab food at reasonable prices. All the hotels count with menus that combine the Arab and the continental food.
The local drink, very popular to go with the Arab dishes, is the Arak, scented anis liquor that is taken with ice and water. Jordan produces wine, beer and refreshing beverages next to you can find any kind of imported beverage. All the hotels and restaurants have license to serve alcoholic beverages.
Servicios Especiales de Leisure
Tel: (55) 9138 3023
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Text: Jolanda Bonazzola de BCD Travel ± Photo: JTB of North Amercia, Patrick Monney, Jolanda Bonazzola de BCD Travel