Saturday, December 7, 2013
Jerash: one of the world's finest Roman sites
We weren't looking forward to the drive on the highway, since it was never a smooth ride. The roads are tarmacked but they must melt in the heat leaving them in poor condition. Near the cities there are always masses of plastic, especially bottles, littering the roads and land. This time as we drove the land was more lush with lots of olive trees and much more greenery than we had seen previously.
Back on the road we were headed to Jerash, a close second to Petra on the list of favourite destinations in Jordan. It boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years.
Jerash was a favourite city of the emperor Hadrian, who spent a year here. Of course there is a huge Hadrian's Arch built at the entrance to the city. One of my favourite sites was the Cardo, a six-hundred-metre-long colonnaded street built in the first century AD that runs the length of the city. You can still see ancient cart tracks in the stone. It was once lined with the city's major buildings, shops and residences. There is even a complex drainage system that lies below the stone paving.
I don't think the Romans could have conceived that the Hippodrome would last until present times, still hosting chariot races, or that the South Theatre, an amphitheatre that seats 3,000 is still occasionally used for musical productions.
But now it was time for lunch. We stopped at a well known restaurant in Amman. It was quite interesting to watch the other tables filled with men in their pristine white robes. I wonder how they keep them so spotless? There were a few people smoking hubbly bubbly pipes or hookahs.
We returned to the hotel passing the ancient Roman theatre that seats over 6,000 people. Then we drove through densely populated areas past all the shops and through the barrio to look over on the king's castle as well as a lovely panoramic view of Amman.