Discovering Jordan’s Historical Treasures

Cultural Travel, Destinations, Extras, Ideas, Jordan, Middle East — By on May 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

Lost Girl Julie Falconer recently took a trip to Jordan and spent two days exploring the historical highlights of the country. Read on for a selection of her personal essays of her trip experiences. See Julie’s London travel blogJordan travel website, and new Lonely Planet e-book for more stories.

My friends thought I was crazy to go to Jordan last month. With political crises in nearby Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Libya, they thought that going to Jordan meant that I would be in danger of getting ensnared in protests or violence.

But the area is so large and diverse that each country deserves to be evaluated on its own merit. Jordan’s history of stability and lack of prolonged protests or violence made me feel comfortable visiting in a time of regional uncertainty.

I had been to Jordan twice before, but this time I had the opportunity to fly there on the inaugural easyJet flight from London. If the airline was so confident in the country’s political stability that they went ahead with their first flight to the country, I didn’t see why I should be worried.

I’m glad I wasn’t. The flight went smoothly, and five hours later I was in Amman, Jordan’s capital. I had a few hours to explore the city, which was calm and showed no signs of unrest.

Amman is rich in history dating all the way back to the Roman Empire. I explored the massive Roman Amphitheater and nearby nymphaeum that dated back to the same period. I then walked through a local vegetable market that sold everything from fresh almonds to pickled cauliflower. At the end, I stopped for piping hot falafel from a hole-in-the-wall vendor. It tasted amazing, and provided good sustenance for the short trip from Amman to Madaba.

Madaba is called the “mosaic city” after the famous mosaic map found during an excavation of the floor of Saint George’s church. The map shows the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding region, and dates back to the 6th century A.D. It is important in that it gives a very clear snapshot of the Holy Land with markers indicating significant Biblical sites.

After visiting the church to see the mosaic, the next stop was perhaps the most famous place in all of Jordan: Petra. I was lucky in that the tour easyJet had prepared for our group was the special Petra by Night tour.

The Siq, a narrow rock crevasse that led to the famous treasury in Petra, was lit on both sides by hundreds, if not thousands, of candles. We walked through the darkness with the small flames leading the way, and eventually found ourselves at the treasury.

There we were met with a spectacular sight: all of the ground in front of the treasury was lit with candles. Musicians serenaded us in the darkness while we sipped tea and listened. It was a very moving scene.

From the treasury we continued our walk by candlelight until we reached one of the restaurants in Petra. There we sat down for a formal dinner and a music and dance performance. Having a meal at night in such a beloved historical site was one of the most unique things I have ever experienced while traveling.

The next morning I was off to another of Jordan’s sightseeing highlights: the Dead Sea. There I had a huge lunch and sat by the pool at one of the resorts on the beach. All around were pools of Dead Sea water, and down below was the sand which gave access to the salty sea.

After an afternoon of relaxation, I returned to Amman for my flight back to London. I had enjoyed the trip and the amazing historical treasures of the country, and felt safe the entire time. I was glad I hadn’t let the regional political turmoil deter me from visiting Jordan, and was hopeful that I could return again before long.

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