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  • The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is just a three-hour flight from Dubai,

  • and a two-hundred-thousand year journey through the history of humankind.

  • More than a country,

  • Jordan is one of the world's epic stories.

  • Our Palaeolithic ancestors wandered north from Africa

  • and made their homes in the cool canyons and caves of this sun-baked land.

  • The smoke of Bedouin campfires

  • has drifted into the Arabian nights for over nine millennia.

  • Prophets wandered these mountains and deserts,

  • receiving visions that shaped three of the world's great faiths.

  • Greek, Roman, Crusader and Arab armies have thundered across these sandy plains,

  • leaving their mark at thousands of archaeological sites,

  • and in every fibre of Jordan's cultural DNA.

  • Today, Jordan is the calm heart of a sometimes-restless region.

  • Jordan's capital, Amman,

  • was known by the ancient Greeks as Philadelphia,

  • the city of brotherly love, and that spirit of tolerance continues to this day.

  • Overlooking downtown Amman from its highest hill is the Citadel,

  • the city's ancient core.

  • Standing tall over the Citadel

  • are the two remaining pillars of The Temple Of Hercules,

  • a Roman temple that in its day, dwarfed many in Ancient Rome.

  • Beneath the pillars,

  • follow the shadows as they sweep across the Citadel's many layers of history,

  • from the Bronze Age to Byzantine times.

  • At the Citadel's base,

  • take in the views from the 6000-seat Roman Theatre,

  • and watch the day-to-day dramas of Amman unfold below.

  • Journey deeper

  • into Jordanian history and culture at Amman's museums and galleries.

  • While much of the kingdom's story is rendered in stone,

  • at The Royal Automobile Museum, Jordan's modern history gleams,

  • in shining chrome.

  • Jordan's hospitality is legendary,

  • and you'll find that welcoming spirit all over Amman.

  • You'll find it through the open doors of the Duke of Mukhyber's Residence,

  • where the aromas of vintage books and faded furnishings

  • will transport you back to the 1940s.

  • It's in the hands of street vendors and cooks,

  • for whom tradition and pride are the most essential ingredients of all.

  • And you'll find it in the evening breeze which invites the Ammani

  • into the cool streets and souks, just as it has for centuries.

  • After a day or two in Amman,

  • follow the winds 30 miles north, to the ancient Greco-Roman city of Jerash.

  • Enter the city's monumental gateway and imagine the scarlet and gold spectacle,

  • which heralded the arrival of Emperor Hadrian's in the 2nd century.

  • Walk out upon the Hippodrome where the roar of fifteen-thousand Romans

  • and the thunder of chariot wheels could be heard for miles.

  • Rest in the shade of the South Gate,

  • then make the short climb to the Temple of Zeus,

  • and look down upon this imperial city.

  • Take a seat in the South Theatre, where even in the highest row,

  • the soft strains of the Jordanian bagpipes are inescapable.

  • Wander across the Oval Forum,

  • where the city once gathered for monthly festivals,

  • tedious decrees, and the gladiators' bloody dance.

  • Follow the Cardo Maximus north,

  • and you will soon understand that there are few things

  • straighter than a Roman road.

  • The stalls which once lined this half-mile colonnade

  • may long be gone,

  • but the daily operetta of commerce lingers amid the ruins of the central market.

  • As the sun beats down,

  • envy the Roman shoppers who once paused under the cooling mists

  • of Jerash's fountains as they returned to home and family.

  • Climb the steps to the Temple of Artemis, where priestesses danced

  • as she-bears before the goddess of hunting and fertility.

  • Artemis, the daughter of Zeus, was the protector of Jerash,

  • until the 4th century when the Roman gods toppled

  • before the teachings of a Jewish carpenter.

  • Just a thirty-minute drive to the northwest of Jerash,

  • experience another great clash of faiths, on the ramparts of Ajloun Castle.

  • Built in the 12th century,

  • Ajloun was one of a string of Arab castles raised by Saladin

  • to halt the Crusader armies as they rode down Jordan's northern valley,

  • hell bent on Jerusalem.

  • The Crusaders have long been vanquished,

  • leaving these hills once more to the herders and their flocks

  • who graze amid the ruins of ancient cities like Pella.

  • Just an hour's drive east from Amman,

  • you'll find even more stillness on the endless gravel plains

  • of the Eastern Desert.

  • Follow the Desert Castle Loop to Qasr Kharana,

  • where Bedouin chieftains emerged from the shimmering horizons to settle tribal

  • scores within the cool confines of its courtyard and 60 rooms.

  • A few miles further is Qusayr Amra.

  • The castle walls have long vanished, but its fabulous bathhouse remains.

  • Step inside from the blinding desert glare to see frescos

  • from the courtly world of early Arabia materialize through the soft light.

  • For many, the highlight of the Eastern Desert is Qasr al-Azraq.

  • During the Great Arab Revolt of 1916-18,

  • T. E. Lawrence made the castle his winter headquarters.

  • Step into his bedroom, where the young British officer planned exploits

  • which would be forever immortalized in books and in film.

  • After exploring the Eastern Desert, travel southwest to Madaba,

  • an ancient market town famed for its Byzantine mosaics.

  • Most famous of all is the Madaba Map,

  • one of the first depictions of the Holy Lands,

  • and a hallowed destination for pilgrims throughout the ages.

  • Today, workshops all over Madaba

  • ensure the mosaic tradition will endure for generations to come.

  • Journey further south to explore the Crusader Castles of the King's Highway,

  • an ancient trading route which took Arabs to Mecca,

  • and Israelites to the Promised Land.

  • See the Promised Land for yourself from Mount Nebo,

  • just six miles west from Madaba.

  • Stand at the place where Moses first looked out

  • across the Dead Sea to the Land of Milk and Honey, Israel.

  • After taking in the mosaics at the Moses Memorial Church,

  • follow the hairpin road down to The Dead Sea; the lowest point on earth.

  • Float upon the saline waters,

  • and cover yourself in the same healing mud that once lured King Herod,

  • The Queen of Sheba, and Cleopatra to these shores.

  • Emerge from the waters renewed, then relax at your resort

  • and watch the lights of Jerusalem and Bethlehem light up on the West Bank.

  • Follow the Dead Sea Highway south to Wadi Mujib, the Grand Canyon of Jordan.

  • Take one of the many hikes into the lush gorge,

  • and bathe in the cool breath of this harsh, yet forgiving land.

  • At the Dead Sea's southern end,

  • visit the cave Lot and his daughters called home

  • after fire and brimstone scorched the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah

  • from the face of the earth.

  • One city which vanished from the outside world for centuries,

  • only to be rediscovered in 1812, is the Nabataean city of Petra.

  • Enter Petra through the Siq,

  • a narrow rift through earth and time,

  • where the modern world is left further behind with each twist and turn.

  • Emerge from the shadows of this sacred way into the sunlight of Wadi Musa,

  • and gaze up at The Treasury.

  • Thanks to movies like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,

  • the world is now familiar with The Treasury's grandeur,

  • but nothing can prepare you for the real thing.

  • Chiseled from the pink sandstone cliffs,

  • The Treasury is the greatest of all Petra's 500 tombs.

  • But your adventure is just beginning.

  • From here the canyon opens out into the Street of Facades,

  • the vast Nabataean Theatre,…and the Royal Tombs.

  • Petra's treasures deserve at least a half day.

  • But to really feel the magic of this 100-square mile labyrinth of

  • temples, tombs and caves, stay longer.

  • For those who linger in the Rose City

  • are rewarded by the new moods and colours that each hour brings.

  • From Petra, follow the desert highway south for 70 miles,

  • to Wadi Rum, the Valley of the Moon.

  • Bathe your spirit in the smoke of a desert camp fire.

  • And at dawn, rise,…to a place beyond words.

  • From epic landscapes, to the monumental ruins of empires,

  • Jordan is a humble reminder that our time on earth is only fleeting.

  • Yet Jordan shows us that sometimes, we can reach out and touch the eternal,

  • and be at one with something far greater than ourselves.

  • The story of Jordon, is the story of us all.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is just a three-hour flight from Dubai,

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Jordan Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

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    Eric Wang   posted on 2020/09/19
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