Amman is the capital and largest city of Jordan, a country in the Middle East. Its history spans thousands of years, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Neolithic period (around 7000 BCE). The city has been known by various names throughout its history, including Philadelphia during the Roman period, and Ammon in ancient times, named after the Ammonites, an ancient Semitic people who lived in the region.
Ancient Period: The earliest records of Amman come from the Ammonites, who settled in the area around 1200 BCE. The Ammonites are mentioned in the Bible and were a significant cultural and political force in the region.
Greco-Roman Period (4th century BCE - 7th century CE): The city, then known as Philadelphia, was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE. It later became a part of the Decapolis, a group of ten Roman cities in the region. Philadelphia was known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, including the Temple of Hercules.
Byzantine Period (4th century CE - 7th century CE): The city continued to thrive during the Byzantine era. Several churches were built during this time, reflecting the spread of Christianity.
Islamic Period (7th century CE - present): In the 7th century, the Islamic conquest of the Levant led to the city coming under Muslim rule. It was renamed Amman and became an important center for trade and administration. Over the centuries, Amman's importance waxed and waned, but it remained a regional hub.
Ottoman Period (1516 - 1918): Amman was part of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. It was a relatively small town during this period, with much of the urban development focused around the old city center, now known as the Amman Citadel.
Modern Era (20th century - present): Jordan gained independence from British mandate rule in 1946, and Amman became the capital of the newly established Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The city has since seen rapid urbanization and development.
Today, Amman is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, known for its mix of ancient ruins and modern architecture. It serves as the cultural, political, and economic center of Jordan. The city's population is diverse, with people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, contributing to its rich cultural tapestry.
Top Tourist Attractions
Amman offers a blend of ancient history and modern attractions, making it a fascinating destination for travelers. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Amman:
- The Amman Citadel (Jabal al-Qal'a): This ancient hilltop citadel is one of the city's most iconic landmarks. It offers panoramic views of Amman and is home to various historical structures, including the Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad Palace, and the Archaeological Museum.
- Roman Theater: Located in the heart of downtown Amman, this well-preserved Roman amphitheater dates back to the 2nd century CE. It's still used for cultural events and offers a glimpse into the city's Roman past.
- King Abdullah I Mosque: This grand mosque is one of the most important religious sites in Amman. Its distinctive blue dome and minarets dominate the city's skyline. Non-Muslims can visit the mosque's impressive courtyard and take in the architectural beauty.
- Rainbow Street: This lively street in the Jabal Amman district is known for its vibrant atmosphere, lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. It's a popular spot for strolling, shopping, and enjoying the local cuisine.
- Jordan Museum: This modern museum provides an excellent overview of Jordan's history, culture, and archaeology. It houses artifacts from various historical periods, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Royal Automobile Museum: This museum showcases the private car collection of the Hashemite royal family, including vintage cars and vehicles with historical significance. It offers insight into Jordan's modern history.
- Duke's Diwan: A historic residence turned cultural center, Duke's Diwan offers a glimpse into the life and legacy of Prince Mohammad Ali, who was an influential figure in Jordan's history.
- Haya Cultural Center: Located in an old villa, this cultural center hosts exhibitions, workshops, and events related to art, culture, and heritage.
- Jordan Folklore Museum: Situated in the Roman Theater complex, this museum displays traditional Jordanian costumes, crafts, and artifacts, offering a window into the country's rich cultural heritage.
- Shopping in Amman: For those interested in shopping, the city offers a range of options. From the bustling markets of downtown to modern malls like the Boulevard and Taj Mall, there's something for every shopper.
- Amman Beach: Although it's not a beach in the traditional sense, this recreational facility near the Dead Sea offers a unique experience. Visitors can float in the hyper-saline waters and enjoy the therapeutic mud.
Amman experiences a semi-arid climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, relatively wet winters. Here's a breakdown of the climate throughout the year:
- Summer (June - August): Temperature: Average high temperatures range from 30°C (86°F) to 35°C (95°F), but can occasionally exceed 40°C (104°F). Rainfall: Virtually no rainfall during the summer months. Sunshine: Long days with abundant sunshine.
- Autumn (September - November): Temperature: Gradual cooling with average highs ranging from 28°C (82°F) in September to 18°C (64°F) in November. Rainfall: Rainfall starts to increase, particularly in November.
- Winter (December - February): Temperature: Average highs range from 12°C (54°F) to 15°C (59°F), while nights can be quite chilly, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing. Rainfall: This is the wettest period of the year. Rainfall is moderate, and there may be occasional snowfall, especially in January.
- Spring (March - May): Temperature: Gradual warming, with average highs increasing from 16°C (61°F) in March to 25°C (77°F) in May. Rainfall: Rainfall starts to decrease, with March being the wettest month of the season.
Overall, the best time to visit Amman for pleasant weather is during the spring (March to May) or the autumn (September to November) when temperatures are milder and rainfall is lower. Keep in mind that summers can be extremely hot, making outdoor activities less comfortable during this time. If you plan to visit in the winter, especially in December and January, be prepared for cooler temperatures and the possibility of rain or snow.
Amman is situated in north-central Jordan, on a plateau between the eastern and western slopes of the Jordanian highlands. Here are some key geographic features and characteristics of Amman:
- Elevation: The city is located at a relatively high altitude, with its central areas ranging from about 700 meters (2,300 feet) to 900 meters (2,950 feet) above sea level. This elevation contributes to the city's temperate climate.
- Topography: Amman is characterized by its hilly and undulating terrain. The city is spread across a series of hills, including the Citadel Hill (Jabal al-Qal'a) and other smaller hills that define the cityscape.
- Ravines and Wadis: The city is dissected by several deep ravines, locally known as "wadis". These natural features have historically played a role in shaping the city's urban layout. The most prominent wadi is Wadi Amman, which runs through the heart of the city.
- Amman Citadel (Jabal al-Qal'a): This historic site is located on the highest hill in Amman and is the most prominent feature of the city's skyline. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding area and contains numerous archaeological remains from different periods of history.
- Desert Surroundings: Amman is located in close proximity to arid desert regions, particularly to the east. The city is part of the broader arid landscape of the Levant region.
- Access to the Dead Sea: Amman is about an hour's drive away from the Dead Sea, which is one of the lowest points on Earth. The Dead Sea is known for its high salinity, making it possible for people to float effortlessly on its surface.
- Urban Expansion: Over the years, Amman has experienced significant urban expansion, with the city spreading outwards from its historic core. The city's growth has been facilitated by modern infrastructure development and the establishment of new neighborhoods.
- Limited Natural Water Sources: Amman faces challenges related to water resources. The city relies on underground aquifers and limited surface water sources, making water conservation an important aspect of urban planning.
Overall, Amman's geography has played a significant role in shaping its urban layout, offering unique viewpoints, and influencing its climate and natural surroundings.