When the Romans ruled the world, they left behind a legacy, one that would stay with us for milleniums. As a history buff, Roman ruins always have that wow effect on me. With their sheer size and grandeur, I find it hard to imagine that they were built thousands of years ago. Most of the world-famous Roman ruins like the Panthenon, Coliseum and Esphesus are found in the heart of the Roman Empire – in modern-day Rome, Greece and Turkey. So it came as quite a surprise to find such a well-preserved and massive Greco-Roman ruin site in Jordan, a country associated more with the Arab Revolt than the Romans.
During my recent visit to Jordan, we drove an hour north of Amman, Jordan’s capital, through green olive groves and grey granite mountains (another surprise!) to arrive at the ancient Greco-Roman city of Jerash. From afar, the archaelogical site sprawled across the hilltops of Jerash – covering an extensive area that must have been the city center during the Roman conquest. The main entrance of the historical site is the Hadrian Gate, an imposing sandstone structure made of three arches, built to commemorate the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit.
To learn abit more about the ancient Roman city, visit the Temple of Zeus Museum within the archaeological site itself. Recently opened by a French archaeological organization, the museum showcases columns, mosaics and paintings dating back to the Hellenistic period.
Another impressive building in the ancient site is the South Theatre, a surprisingly well-preserved amphitheatre that could sit up to 2000 people back in those days. The acoustics of the theatre is astonishing: stand in the center of the theatre and shout – you’ll hear your echoes bouncing back from the theatre walls.
Columns of the South Temple
The Cardo – a walkway that cuts through the city center, typically found in most Greco-Roman cities.
All in all, I found the Jerash Roman ruins to be as impressive as those in Athens and Rome. So if you’re looking to see a different side of Jordan, be sure to pay a visit to Jerash. You won’t be disappointed.