Amman, Jordan's capital city
Many visitors use Jordan's capital merely as a gateway to the rest of the country, perhaps making a side trip to Jerash or the Desert Castles before moving on to the higher profile destinations of Petra, Wadi Rum, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea.
If you have time, however, it's well worth adding a day or two to your holiday to sample the delights of this very pleasant, safe and increasingly sophisticated city.
Although it's only in the last century that Amman has grown into a substantial city, its history stretches back to neolithic times. Several mentions of Rabbath Ammon (Great City of the Ammonites) are found in the Old Testament, whilst in Roman times the city was known as Philadelphia and was one of the cities of the Decapolis. The Roman Theatre can still be found at the centre of 'downtown'.
Amman is built around a series of seven hills. On the summit of Jebel Al-Qal'a, which overlooks the downtown area, stand the ruins of the Temple of Hercules (pictured left). Close by are the remains of a small Byzantine Church, and also the foundations of what was once an enormous Umayyad Palace, built in 720 when Amman was a provincial capital. The old Jordan Museum is also located here; most of the artifacts have been moved to the new Jordan Museum (see below).
If you're looking for somewhere to enjoy a drink or a snack in the city, then head for Rainbow Street in West Amman with its shops, cafés and boutiques. Particularly recommended is the excellent books@café , a bookshop which also doubles as a café and is set in a delightful historic building. Or alternatively head for Wild Jordan, run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which not only offers highly rated organic food, but also provides much information about Jordan's nature reserves as well as selling traditional artifacts made by craftsmen working in association with the reserves.
The new Jordan Museum mentioned above is almost complete, and may well be fully open by the time you visit Amman. It will house the national archaeological collection and promises to be one of the best museums in the Middle East.