There’s no doubt that the city of Petra is Jordan’s jewel and star tourist attraction! It truly is a site to behold in person to truly believe and understand its wonder. Yet, many visitors forget that Jordan offers so much more. For this purpose, we have left off the most visited sites in Jordan like Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and the Dead Sea, and will show you some of the other attractions that Jordan possesses. They vary from historic experiences to the leisurely, from the adventurous to the religious. There’s no denying that Jordan is diverse…here’s a little look at why:
Secluded deep in Wadi Feynan in the Dana Biosphere Reserve is Feynan. Leave technology and your worries behind as you retreat into nature: enjoy a majestic view of the sun setting on colourful mountains and sand dunes, lie under a blanket of starry skies as you commune with nature and listen to the sounds of the desert.
Deep in the valley is the Feynan Ecolodge: a quiet and remote lodge that operates under a sustainable tourism mandate. Feynan aims to give its visitors a unique experience while also benefiting the local community.
From the lodge, you can explore the amazing archaeology of Feynan on foot or by 4×4 vehicles. Alternatively, you can hike to the desert oases in Wadi Araba or continue on a longer distance trek to Dana Village or to Showbak and Petra while enjoying stunning mountain scenery.
The city known as the “City of Mosaics” has a long history, being first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Exodus, about 1200 BC. Some of the finest art of early Christian centuries can still be seen in Madaba city and its surrounding regions in central Jordan. Between the 4th and 7th centuries AD, the prosperous ecclesiastical centre of Madaba produced one of the world’s finest collections of Byzantine mosaics, many fine examples of which are well-preserved.
Madaba’s real masterpiece, in the Orthodox Church of Saint George, is the 6th century AD mosaic map of the Holy Land in any form to survive from antiquity. With two million pieces of coloured stone, and a full 25x5m in its original state – most of which can still be seen today. The map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns, as far away as the Nile Delta. This masterpiece is unrivalled in Jordan, but there are litarrly dozens of other mosaics from the 5th through the 7th centuries scattered throughout Madaba’s churches and homes.
A close second to Petra on the list of favourite destinations in Jordan is the ancient city of Jerash, which boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. Jerash lies on a plain surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins. Conquered by General Pompey in 63 BC, it came under Roman rule and was one of the ten great Roman cities of the Decapolis League.
The city’s golden age came under Roman rule, during which time it was known as Gerasa, and the site is now generally acknowledged to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Hidden for centuries in sand before being excavated and restored over the past 70 years, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East, comprising paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates.
Quseir Amra is a bathhouse constructed during the first half of the 8th century in the Jordanian steppe away from any visible ancient settlement. It consists of a rectangular audience-hall divided into three aidles by two transverse arches. The aisles are roofed by three tunnel-vaults. On the axis of the entrance door is an alcove; a small door to the right and left in the alcove open into two small mosaic-paved and dimly-lit rooms.
What is striking about Quseir Amra are its extensive fresco paintings which cover visually all of its the interior surfaces. Its interior walls and ceilings are covered with lively frescoes, and two of the rooms are paved with colorful mosaics. The iconographic repertoire includes hunting and bathing scenes, wrestlers, archers, musicians and dancers, as well as panels depicting various crafts and activities connected with construction work.
Quseir Amra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The springs are located 264m below sea level in one of the most breathtaking desert oases in the world. Thousands of visiting bathers come each year to enjoy the mineral-rich waters of these hyper-thermal waterfalls. These falls originate from winter rainfalls in the highland plains of Jordan and eventually feed the 109 hot and cold springs in the valley. This water is heated to temperatures of up to 63° Celsius by underground lava fissures as it makes its way through the valley before emptying into the Zarqa River.
What better way to end a day immersed in history than in a wonderful, naturally warm bath?
Site of the famous miracle of the Gadarene swine, Gadara was renowned in its time as a cultural centre. It was the home of several classical poets and philosophers, including Theodorus, founder of a rhetorical school in Rome, and was once called “a new Athens” by a poet. Perched on a splendid hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee, Gadara is known today as Umm Qays, and boasts an impressive colonnaded street, a vaulted terrace, and the ruins of two theatres. You can take in the sights and then dine on the terrace of a fine restaurant with a breathtaking view.
Grab a lifejacket and take the plunge! The Mujib Nature Reserve is the lowest-altitude nature reserve in the world, with its spectacular array of scenery near the East coast of the Dead Sea. The reserve is located within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge which enters the Dead Sea at 410m below sea level. The Reserve extends to the Karak and Madaba mountains to the North and South, reaching 900m above sea level in some places. This 1,300m variation in elevation, combined with the valley’s year-round water flow from seven tributaries, means that the Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent biodiversity that is still being explored and documented today.
Over 420 species of plants, 102 species of permanent and migratory birds, and10 species of carnivore including the Red Fox, Blandford Fox, Hyena, Jackal, Wild Cat, Caracal, Badger, Mongoose, Wolf and Arabian Leopard have been recorded to date. Some of the remote mountain and valley areas are difficult to reach, offering a safe haven to various species of cats, goats and other mountain animals.
Mujib’s sandstone cliffs are an ideal habitat for one of the most beautiful mountain goats in the world, the Nubian Ibex. The natural Ibex herds have declined over the years due to over hunting, prompting Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature to establish a captive-breeding programme for the Ibex within the Mujib Nature Reserve.