Philadelphia was once the name of Amman, the present-day capital of Jordan. That name was in use when the area was under the Ptolemaic Kingdom (ancient Greeks based in Egypt) in the BCE period. I discovered this fact during my visit to Jordan in 2013. It was quite a delightful trip and the one week duration I allocated for the visit was not enough. If you are a history buff, then Jordan would be more of interest to you than the other middle-east countries. I'd say even more interesting than Egypt.
When I got back from the trip, I had planned to write about it in this blog. I only managed to put up an introductory post (here) but then failed keep to my plan. This entry is therefore a much-delayed effort at sharing some of the fascinating aspects of this beautiful country.
So what made me move my butt and decide to post on this subject? A friend of mine is presently enjoying a holiday in Jordan and uploaded some lovely photos on her Facebook page. It made me recall my own time there and caused me to peek again at the hundreds of photographs I took. I guess it is time to share a small selection here. I'll arrange the pictures based on the locations visited. In order not to flood a single post with too many photos, I'll spread them out over a few parts (I'll try my best to keep the promise, this time).
Within the capital itself are quite a number of attractions worth seeing. No doubt the most famous tourist site in Jordan is Petra but it is located some distance away from Amman, around 3 to 4 hours drive to the south. You'll need a full day to really explore the wonders of that Nabatean ruins. We decided to start with a tour of Amman and the following are the few places we manage to visit within a day.
1. Roman Amphitheatre
The old Amman city was built on seven hills. In downtown Amman, carved into the side of one of those hills, the ancient Romans had constructed an amphitheatre that could seat an audience of 6,000 people. Being the engineer that I am, the beautiful geometrical proportions of this theatre impressed me. The Romans surely had very skilled surveyors and craftsmen during their day.
The overall structure is still in reasonable shape. Credit to the Jordanian authorities for keeping it so.
I climbed the steep stairs to the highest level, walked to the centre section and sat down on the stone seating. As I viewed the stage far below, I imagined an ancient play being performed. Enchanting.
|View of theatre from street level. The new plaza in front is modern-day construction|
|Three tiers of seating in semi-circular layout|
|The middle section of the lowest tier has wider seating area, presumably for VIPs|
|View from the topmost tier. The stage seems a long way down from here|
2. The Citadel
Not far from the amphitheatre at the top of a neighbouring hill is Amman Citadel. The citadel is a fort that was occupied and inhabited by various peoples and cultures in its illustrious history. The structures and buildings that can be seen today come from the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods. It is quite amazing to see the different cultural and religious influences, spanning thousands of years within the same site.
|The Roman Amphitheatre and downtown Amman as seen from the Citadel|
|At the entrance to the Citadel site are plaques displaying the names of the city at different periods of its history|
|Temple of Hercules, built by Romans in 162 - 166 CE|
|Temple of Hercules|
|Temple of Hercules|
|Temple of Hercules|
|Ruins of Umayyad dwellings|
|Domed gateway to Umayyad Palace|
|Local boys happy to have their picture taken by a tourist|
|Ruins of a Byzantine church in the foreground|
3. Cave of The Seven Sleepers
The story of seven young men and their loyal dog who sought refuge in a cave and fell asleep for hundreds of years, is mentioned in the holy Al-Quran (Surah 18 : Al-kahf, The Cave). The exact location of the cave however, is not stated. Jordanians claim that the cave is in their country, on the outskirts of the capital. They base this claim on the geographical references deduced from the said surah. Whether the miracle event actually happened here or not isn't the main issue for me. The visit made me explore the story further and learn an underlying lesson contained in the surah. This tale has a parallel in Christian tradition.
My earlier post on this topic can be read here -> Cave of 7 Sleepers.
|Signboard of the cave location|
|Entrance to the cave structure, thought to be built in the Byzantine era|
We managed to squeeze in this stop just before closing time. As such, I was not able to take as much photos as I would have liked. Okay then... that's it for this post. The next post on this theme shall be about other interesting places outside of Amman, insyaAllah...