Jordan: An Exotic Mix of Culture, History, Pleasure and Adventure
May 25, 2013
After arriving at Amman airport, we embarked on a 3-hour road trip that took us to the ancient site of Petra in southern Jordan. Established during the sixth century BC by a nomadic tribe called the Nabataean Arabs, it remained under their control for over 700 years until the Romans took control. Eventually abandoned by the Romans and otherwise forgotten by western society, it was redis- covered by the Swiss explorer Johan Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Petra has been nominated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the sheer scale and precision of this carved-out ancient village will take your breath away!
After a 90-minute drive south from Petra, we arrived at Wadi Rum. The surreal landscape of Wadi Rum is extremely impressive where wind, sand, and water have carved the granite and sandstone mono- lithic rockscapes into truly unique shapes, inspiring artists and chal- lenging hikers. Using a 4X4 Jeep, we took one of the most impres- sive excursions to the Burdah Rock Bridge, via the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and other interesting sites where we enjoyed one-of-a-kind hiking and rock climbing.
Snorkeling & Diving in Aqaba
Our next stop was Aqaba, a splendid resort town on the southern- most tip of Jordan. We took a half-day cruise that included snor- keling, diving, and lunch on the boat. The warmth of the region and gentle water currents have created a perfect environment for coral formations and hundreds of varieties of colorful fish that can be found nowhere else in the world. We cruised out into the sea in a glass-bottom boat and had lunch while taking in the beautiful scenery – an experience beyond words!
From Aqaba, we drove two hours to the Dead Sea, a fascinatingly salty sea and a must-see destination! For thousands of years, peo- ple have flocked to this lowest point on Earth for its therapeutic healing properties. The salt content of the Dead Sea is 34 times the normal concentration of salt in any body of water in the world! Along with the other essential minerals found in the Dead Sea water, it is an incredibly beneficial mix for your skin. You can float around with no effort on your part, but only for 20 minutes at a time!
Bethany, Jordan River
From the Dead Sea, we drove to the Jordan River and visited the heart of the holy land where Jesus was baptized. The authenticity of the site is as pure as the testimonies from the gospels and the pilgrims and travelers that have visited the cherished site. What’s more, the archeological sites discovered show remains of the five churches built in the 5th century as memorials of Jesus’ baptism. We visited the recently built Orthodox Church on the site, brought some holy water from Jordan River, and snapped some beautiful souvenir pictures.
After another hour-long drive, we arrived to Mount Nebo where we took a divine tour of this legendary place where Moses saw the Promised Land. You could say that we were drenched in Biblical his- tory! Mount Nebo is one of the most honored holy sites and is located ten kilometers from the Byzantine town of Madaba; it’s also the presumed place of Moses’ death and burial. Centuries ago, the sanctuary on the top of the mountain was the final destination for many pilgrims. It is through the narratives of these many pilgrims that this site has been identified.
After all the sight-seeing, we decided to take one more hour-long scenic journey to find some much-needed rest and relaxation. We arrived in Ma’in where we stayed at the 5-star Six Senses Spa & Resort. The hotel is set in an idyllic location amidst protective rocky cliffs with a hot springs waterfalls cascading in the middle of the resort. This eco-friendly hotel is mesmerizing; all the food prepared in the kitchen is grown organically on the premises and even the water is filtered through an on-site filtration system.
After a day in Ma’in, our next stop was “The City of Mosaics” a site to behold! Madaba was first mentioned in the Bible as Medeba at the time of Exodus, and is dated back as far as 1300 BC. It has an extremely impressive collection of Byzantine art, architecture and mosaic work. Hundreds of mosaics from the 5th to 7th centuries are scattered throughout the city under many homes and churches. The most exciting masterpiece can be found on the floor of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church: a 6th century Byzantine mosaic map of the entire holy land from Phoenicia in the North, to Egypt in the South.
Set in the fertile Jordan River Valley, Amman is a vibrant city full of multi-cultural, multi-denominational, well-educated and friendly people! It is an intriguing blend of both old and new. The older downtown area is more traditional with more traditional architec- ture; you’ll find many small businesses selling handicrafts, jewelry and other items. On the other hand, the commercial heart of the city is filled with ultra-modern architecture, art galleries, and cafés. Shop, walk, dine, and gaze upon this well-planned urban hub with its abundance of tree-lined streets and almost uniformly pale stone portico homes and buildings.
Getting up in the morning in Amman, we drove to Jarash, known as the ‘Rome away from Rome’. It was one of the ten great Roman cities of the Decapolis League and was continually inhabited for 6,500 years. Jarash is one of the most well-preserved of all Roman provincial towns thanks to a layer of sand that covered the site before being rediscovered 70 years ago and restored to its former glory. This walled city is comprised of cobblestone streets, ornate towering pillars, exquisite theaters, expansive public squares and plazas, Roman bathhouses and fountains.
Whether you want to visit religious sites and ancient ruins, relax and indulge in one of the best spas in the world, or be more active and experience the one-of-a-kind rock climbing, snorkeling and diving, Jordan is the place to go. With its safe environment, friendly and hospitable people, Jordan is one destination to add to your list!