Now that we had Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea out of the way, why not also see Rome while in Jordan? “Rome away from Rome” is how the locals describe Jerash, one of the largest and well-preserved ancient Roman ruins outside of Italy, rivaled only by Ephesus in Turkey.
Pompey the Great, a Roman General, built the Roman city in Jerash in 63 BC and made it a part of Roman Decapolis League, a group of ten cities located in the Middle East ruled by the Roman Empire. In 2nd century BC, Jerash was conquered by Alexander the Great, who built many of the structures we see today.
The ruins of Jerash laid hidden in the sand for several centuries and was not rediscovered until 1806. The excavation didn’t start until 1925 and still continues.
The excation revealed a formal and sophisticated Roman city with elegant colonnaded streets, spacious plaza, baths, fountains, grand theaters and impressive temples.
In as recent as 2013, more discoveries have been uncovered in Jerash. A gold workshop was discovered in the Temple of Zeus which gives light on how gold statues were made 2,000 years ago.
Jerash flourished by trading with the Nabateans, the tribe who built the city of Petra. It went into decline in 3rd century AD when the overland caravans was replaced by sea route. But what really finished its life as a great city was the series of earthquakes in year 747.
Have you been to Jerash? Do you have a favorite Roman ruin?
- Jerash is located 51 kms/31 mi from Amman.
- A frequent bus service (1¼ hours ride) serves Jerash-Amman route.
- A group or private tour can also be arranged from Amman.
- The site is open daily from 8:00 to 16:00 until 19:00 during summer.
- Entrance fee is JD8 or about US$11.
- A gladiator and chariot racing performances are held in the Hippodrome twice a day five days a week. For showtimes and tickets, visit jerashchariots.com.
- Bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and adequate water with you.
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