The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon, which once captivated ancient travellers, continues to enthral a whole new generation as a modern, vibrant nation. From the haunting, primeval starkness of Wadi Rum to the teeming centre of urban Amman and from the majestic ruins of bygone civilizations to the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea; Jordan is unveiled as a unique destination offering breathtaking and mysterious sights, high standard accommodations, exquisite cuisine and countless activities that can provide visitors with inspiration, motivation, and rejuvenation.
Marveling at herds of gazelles and Oryx and migrating birds, camping amidst the grandeur of Wadi Rum or Dana Reserve, trekking the ancient caravan trails from the highlands of Moab and Edom, hiking the wooded hills of biblical Gilead, or experiencing the unique, cleansing mud baths of the Dead Sea are just a few examples of the treasures awaiting visitors to this unique kingdom.
A sprawling city spread over 19 hills, or “jebels”. Amman is the modern, as well as the ancient capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Towering above Amman, the site of the earliest fortifications is now subject to numerous excavations which have revealed remains from the Neolithic period as well as from the Hellenistic and late Roman to Arab Islamic Ages.
The site which is known as the Citadel includes many structures such as the Temple of Hercules, the Omayyad Palace and the Byzantine Church. Also at the foot of the Citadel lies the 6000 seat Roman Theatre; a deep-sided bowl carved into the hill that is still used today for cultural events.
The uniqueness of Amman comes in its incorporation and retention of history and culture within a currently modern city filled with luxurious hotels, a variety of restaurants, entertainment for all age groups, Museums, Art Galleries, theaters and more.
The ancient city of Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is one of Jordan’s national treasures and by far its best known tourist attraction. A legacy of the Nabataens, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2000 years ago, Petra was admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels. Now, the “Rose Red City” is a UNESCO world heritage site that enchants visitors from all corners of the globe.
A close second to Petra on the list of favorite destinations in Jordan, the ancient city of Jerash boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back to more than 6,500 years. The city’s golden age came under Roman rule 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, Jerash reveals a fine example of the grand, formal provincial Roman urbanism that is found throughout the Middle East.
“The City of Mosaics, ” best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, is home to the famous 6th century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. With two million pieces of colored stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. Madaba is a city with a long history; being first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Exodus at around 1200 BC., a tomb of this period can still be found east of the town.
Mount Nebo is the place from where, according to the Bible, Moses viewed the holy land of Canaan and is believed to have been buried. It is the most revered holy site in Jordan and a place of pilgrimage for early Christians. Mount Nebo’s first church, the Moses Memorial Church, was built in the fourth century AD to mark this holy site. The Serpentine Cross, which stands outside the sanctuary, is symbolic of the brass serpent taken by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan
The site of John the Baptist’s settlement at Bethany beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, has long been known from the Bible (John 1:28 and 10:40) and from the Byzantine and medieval texts. The Baptism site has long been part of the Christian pilgrimage route between Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Mount Nebo.
Dana Nature Reserve covers 308 square kilometers of valleys, rivers and mountains that extend from the top of the Jordan Rift valley down to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. Dana offers the beauty of the Rummana Mountain, the mystery of the ancient archaeological ruins of Feinan, the timeless serenity of Dana Village and the grandeur of the red and white sandstone cliffs of Wadi Dana.
The Reserve also contains a remarkable diversity in landscaping that ranges from wooded highlands and rocky slopes to gravel plains and dunes of sand. Dana supports diverse wildlife which includes a variety of rare species of plants and animals with about 600 species of plants, 37 species of mammals and 190 species of birds.
The Wadi Mujib Natural Reserve, the lowest natural reserve on Earth; located within the deep Wadi Mujib Gorge enters the Dead Sea at 410 meters below sea level and extends to the Karak and Madaba mountains to the north and south reaching 900 meters above sea level. This 1,300 meter variation in elevation, combined with the valley’s year- round water flow from seven tributaries, means that Wadi Mujib enjoys a magnificent bio-diversity that is still being explored and documented today.
Over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores and numerous species of permanent and migratory birds have been recorded. Some remote mountain and valley areas are difficult to reach, and thus offer safe havens for rare 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 horned Ibex.
The Gulf of Aqaba is famous for its marine wildlife. As the world’s northernmost coral reef ecosystem it enjoys an average water temperature of 23° Celsius, with the absence of stormy weather and mild water currents, the Gulf of Aqaba offers a hospitable environment for the growth of corals combined with its favorable salinity levels that are perfect for myriads of other marine life-forms.
The Gulf of Aqaba is home to 110 species of soft corals and 120 species of hard corals. The reefs which fringe the Gulf, host over 1000 species of fish, corals, crustaceans, and mammals living in its waters. Nocturnal animals such as the crab, shrimp, and lobster appear in search of food in the dark hours of the night; also seasonal visitors to the Gulf of Aqaba include sea turtles, dolphins, sea cows, and harmless whale sharks.
The Wadi Rum Desert is dotted with massive mountains colored in shades of red, yellow and orange that spill over to color the sand dunes, creating a breath taking horizon with a unique moonlike landscape. The eco-system of Wadi Rum holds many rare and endemic plants.
Spring reveals hundreds of species of wild flowers. Also, about 120 bird species have been recorded in the area, including the Griffon Vulture, the Fan-Tailed Raven, Bonelli’s Eagle, and Hume’s Tawny Owl, not to mention that Baseline surveys show the existence of the Grey Wolf, Blandford’s Fox, the Sand Cat, and Ibex within the area.
The Dead Sea
At 410 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth with a coast line that is one of the most spectacular natural and spiritual landscapes in the world. The Dead Sea waters contain a 31.5% salt concentration and over 20 different minerals.
Studies have shown that the combination of the Dead Sea water and the rich black mud found along the shoreline have significant health benefits; including increasing circulation, easing discomfort from arthritis, healing allergies, and revitalizing skin.
Located 264 meters below sea level, in one of the most breath-taking desert oasis in the world, lies Hammamat Ma’in; where visitors come to enjoy the mineral rich waters of the hyper-thermal waterfalls that originate from winter rain falls in the highland plains of Jordan and are heated by underground lava fissures.
The hotel and spa in Ma’in offer a wide variety of professional services including mud wraps, hydrojet baths and showers, underwater massages, mud facials, electrotherapy and cosmetology treatments.
Meetings, Conferences and More
Jordan has been the meeting place of different cultures. Today a selection of meetings are held on board a luxury yacht in the Red Sea and international conventions of over 3000 people are conducted at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center (KHBTCC) at the Dead Sea. The KHBTCC sits on the shore of the Dead Sea, 45 Km from Amman and within walking distance of several five-star hotels; it provides over 1200 guest rooms.
All of Jordan’s major hotels pride themselves in providing quality service and facilities for the meetings and incentive market. Banqueting departments are ready to assist in designing and conducting events, quickly handling any questions and giving you peace of mind.
The Kingdom is attracting considerable investments in hotels and multi-purpose property developments, with particularly lucrative projects in Aqaba and the Dead Sea. As for Amman, it is also embarking on a lot of investment ventures with the continuous growth of its hotel industry, where new hotels are frequently being built.
With eight years of professional experience in the marketing the tourism and travel sector with an educational focus specializing in marketing tourism and hospitality, Sa’ed Zawaideh is Marketing Manager for the Jordan Tourism Board.
For more information on the Jordan Tourism Board please visitwww.visitjordan.com