Archaeological evidence shows that humans have lived in what is now Jordan for at least 90,000 years. This evidence includes Paleolithic tools such as knives, hand-axes, and scrapers made of flint and basalt.
Jordan is part of the Fertile Crescent, one of the world regions were agriculture likely originated during the Neolithic period (8,500 – 4,500 BCE). People in the area likely domesticated grains, peas, lentils, goats, and later cats to protect their stored food from rodents.
Jordan’s written history begins in Biblical times, with the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and Edom, which are mentioned in the Old Testament. The Roman Empire conquered much of what is now Jordan, even taking in 103 CE the powerful trading kingdom of the Nabateans, whose capital was the intricately carved city of Petra.
After the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) died, the first Muslim dynasty created the Umayyad Empire (661 – 750 CE), which included what is now Jordan. Amman became a major provincial city in the Umayyad region calledAl-Urdun, or “Jordan.” When the Abbasid Empire (750 – 1258) moved its capital away from Damascus to Baghdad, to be closer to the center of their expanding empire, Jordan fell into obscurity.
The Mongols brought down the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, and Jordan came under their rule. They were followed by the Crusaders, the Ayyubids, and the Mamluks in turn. In 1517, Ottoman Empire conquered what is now Jordan.
Under Ottoman rule, Jordan enjoyed benign neglect. Functionally, local Arab governors ruled the region with little interference from Istanbul. This continued for four centuries, until the Ottoman Empire fell in 1922 after its defeat in World War I.
When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the League of Nations assumed a mandate over its Middle Eastern territories. Britain and France agreed to divide up the region, as the mandatory powers, with France taking Syria and Lebanon, and Britain taking Palestine (which included Transjordan). In 1922, Britain assigned a Hashemite lord, Abdullah I, to govern Transjordan; his brother Faisal was appointed king of Syria, and later was moved to Iraq
Amman is a relatively young capital when compared to its neighbours in the Middle East. Before 1921 it was just a small farming village on the hills, built from white stone. However, that year Emir Abdullah chose it to be the capital of Trans-Jordan, that’s when the city skyrocketed from a village into a modern capital. Since then, Amman has grown rapidly into a modern, thriving metropolis of well over two million people.
In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans’ workshops. Everywhere there is evidence of the city’s much older past.
Due to the city’s modern-day prosperity and temperate climate, almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in the Amman area. The residential suburbs consist of mainly tree-lined streets and avenues flanked by elegant, almost uniformly white houses in accordance with a municipal law, which states that all buildings must be faced with local stone.
The downtown area is much older and more traditional with smaller businesses producing and selling everything from fabulous jewellery to everyday household items.
The people of Amman are multi-cultural, multi-denominational, well-educated and extremely hospitable. They welcome visitors and take pride in showing them around their fascinating and vibrant city.
What To See:
Enjoy a sunset from the view point near the Citadel. The best is to arrive 5-10 minutes before the Magrib Athan. When you listen to the muezzin call from the view point, where the whole city lies before you, you will get the unforgettable impression.
The theatre, set into the hillside, was probably built between 1131 to 161AD/CE, during the rule of Antonius Pius. It has the standard Roman theatre layout of semi-circular rows of stone bench seating, steeply tiered, facing the centre ‘stage’ where performances took place. The theatre seats around 6000 people and is still occasionally used for concerts. The theatre acoustics, of course, are as excellent as they are in all Roman theatres and the location was chosen so that the south-facing stage is in sunlight for most of the day while the audience are in shadow. Very clever builders, the Romans!
A perfect example of contemporary Islamic architecture, the King Hussein Ben Talal Masjid is the largest masjid in Jordan and also the national masjid of the country. It was inaugurated in 2006 and can house about 5,500 people. The masjid features four minarets built in typical Islamic style.
The façade of the mihrab is carved out of rare varieties of wood. There is also a covered outdoor praying area, which can seat around 2,500 worshippers and above the inner and outer prayer area there are two prayer halls meant to seat 350 women.
The first floor of the masjid is dedicated to a library, lecture halls and offices. There is also a Hashemite History Museum inside the masjid.
The King Abdullah I Mosque in Amman, Jordan was built between 1982 and 1989.This mosque located in El-Abdali district was built as a memorial to the late King Hussein’s Grandfather. The beautiful and instantly recognizable Blue Dome Masjid. The Islamic Museum, with a collection of pottery and photographs of His Majesty King Abdullah I, is located inside the mosque.
I realize that this is a bit of a cheating or false tip. It is not really a direction to see a specific site outside of Amman, but rather a suggestion that visitors to the capital, or those on long, rigid tours of sightseeing, take some time to discover the natural beauty of the countryside. The route is often circuitous, and it gives the opportunity to experience the splendours of a country that includes rocky deserts, desolate plains, and brilliantly green groves of old trees. Recommended spots are both the road out to Mt. Nebo and Madaba, and the hills just north of the city of Jerash.
Where To Eat:
Wild Jordan Café is located at the Wild Jordan Centre near Rainbow Street in Jebel Amman. The café offers a nice menu of fairly light dishes which could be enjoyed on a terrace overlooking downtown Amman and its surrounding hills. The Centre itself is associated with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and has the purpose of encouraging wild life conservation and eco-tourism, as well as local arts and crafts. It contains a shop with intriguing high quality artisanal objects and artefacts, such as olive-oil soaps, jams, and jewellery. The centre also holds some cultural and musical events.
Meeting a few locals, they took me for the original knafeh, a Levantine cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup. There are a few shops with the name Habibah, but the original of these is the local’s favorite.
It is a tiny shop, so small that they made the cashier sit outside in a little booth. The line backs up pretty far, but it moves fast. Shuffling inside single file, you pay for your portion (pay by weight), pick it up, then try to get out again before the next people block you.
There are no tables, but there are several seats along the side of the alley where everyone congregates.
by DSwede Written Mar 14, 2015
There is this great place in Amman that offers both locals and tourists with cooking classes. Call them and reserve a seat and go learn how to make 4 different dishes.
The place is called “Beit Sitti” which means my grandmother’s house.
Here you get to cook your meal, eat it with a great view to the Citadel and downtown Amman and meet new people.
This restaurant on King Faysal Street is not very easy to find. If you walk along King Faysal from the Hussein Masjid, you will find it on your left, close to the Bata Store.
The restaurant seating is on the first floor. They serve delicious classical Arabic food at reasonable prices. It is very popular with locals.
Serving nothing but shawarma with no seating at all, Reem is one of the cheapest and most popular eateries in Amman. Its shawarma is considered the best in the city (though differs in style to Syrian shawarma, for those familiar with it) and the place is rumored to have been frequented by the country’s royalty in disguise. Reem is located at the 2nd Circle in Jebel Amman on the main thoroughfare linking the eight circles. No reservation or anything is necessary, just show up and order your shawarma takeaway, preferably eaten right away!
A no-frills place, Hashem Restaurant is a very popular eatery known for its excellent falafels. The basic local restaurant is tucked in an alley of a main street in downtown Amman, with most of its tables scattered around the alley (plus two small indoor dining rooms). The clientele is mostly local who come here for falafel combined with bread, ful (fava bean dish), hummus and salad. All delicious and extremely inexpensive. Hashem Restaurant is a perfect place for lunch when visiting the ancient ruins of downtown Amman.