Middle of Jordan
Amman

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.

In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans' workshops. Everywhere there is evidence of the city's much older past. Amman is crowned by the Citadel. A hill with ruins of the temple of Hercules, an Ummayyad Palace, and a Byzantine Church.
At the foot of the Citadel lies the 6000 seat Roman Theatre.
Due to the city's modern-day prosperity and temperate climate, almost half of Jordan's population is concentrated in the Amman area. The residential suburbs consist of mainly tree-lined streets and avenues flanked by elegant, almost uniformly white houses in accordance with a municipal law, which states that all buildings must be faced with local stone.

The downtown area is much older and more traditional with smaller businesses producing and selling everything from fabulous jewellery to everyday household items.
Azraq

Azraq is a unique wetland oasis located in the heart of the semi-arid Jordanian eastern desert, one of several beautiful nature reserves managed by the RSCN. Its attractions include several natural and ancient-built pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat known as Qa'a Al-Azraq. A wide variety of birds stop at the reserve each year to rest during their arduous migration routes between Asia and Africa. Some stay for the winter or breed within the protected areas of the wetland.

The best time to visit Al--Azraq is in late autumn, winter or spring. Winter rains often create pools and marshes over the reserve, which continue to attract many seasonal species of birds. The success of bird-watching visits depends largely on the amount of water that has accumulated in the reserve.

Azraq has an interesting geological history. It was once a vast oasis, its pools filled by a complex network of aquifers fed mainly from the Jebel Druze area of southern Syria – the waters taking up to 50 years en route. Surrounding the oasis is about 60 sq.m. of silt, beneath which is a vast concentration of salt.
SHAWMARI RESERVE

The Shawmari Reserve is a breeding centre for some of the most endangered and rare wildlife in the Middle East. In this small reserve there is a large herd of magnificent Arabian Oryx, a species that was once on the verge of extinction. There are also ostriches, onagers and graceful desert gazelles. These animals are all rebuilding their populations in this safe haven, where they are protected from the hunting and habitat destruction that once threatened their existence.

The Shawmari Reserve supports a rich variety of desert plants, mainly because the vegetation inside the reserve is protected from the heavy grazing of sheep and goats outside its perimeters. Shawmari contains a very large number of species of plants, including Atriplex, a natural food source for the Onager and Oryx.
Dead Sea

Without a doubt the world's most amazing place, the Jordan Rift Valley is a dramatic, beautiful landscape, which at the Dead Sea, is over 400m (1,312 ft.) below sea level. The lowest point on the face of the earth, this vast stretch of water receives a number of incoming rivers, including the River Jordan. Once the waters reach the Dead Sea they are land-locked and have nowhere to go, so they evaporate, leaving behind a dense, rich, cocktail of salts and minerals that supply industry, agriculture and medicine with some of its finest products. The Dead Sea is flanked by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west, giving it an almost other-worldly beauty. Although sparsely populated and serenely quiet now, the area is believed to have been home to five Biblical cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin and Zoar (Bela).

One of the most spectacular natural and spiritual landscapes in the world, the Jordanian east coast of the Dead Sea has evolved into a major hub of both religious and health & wellness tourism in the region. A series of good roads, excellent hotels with spa and fitness facilities, as well as archaeological and spiritual discoveries make this region as enticing to today's international visitors as it was to kings, emperors, traders, prophets and pilgrims in antiquity.

The leading attraction at the Dead Sea is the warm, soothing, super salty water itself – some ten times saltier than sea water, and rich in chloride salts of magnesium, sodium, potassium, bromine and several others. The unusually warm, incredibly buoyant and mineral-rich waters have attracted visitors since ancient times, including King Herod the Great and the beautiful Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra. All of whom have luxuriated in the Dead Sea's rich, black, stimulating mud and floated effortlessly on their backs while soaking up the water's healthy minerals along with the gently diffused rays of the Jordanian sun.
Madaba

This is a stupendous, timeless place, virtually untouched by humanity and its destructive forces. Here, it is the weather and winds that have carved the imposing, towering skyscrapers, so elegantly described by T.E. Lawrence as “vast, echoing and God-like..."

A maze of monolithic rockscapes rise up from the desert floor to heights of 1,750m creating a natural challenge for serious mountaineers. Hikers can enjoy the tranquility of the boundless empty spaces and explore the canyons and water holes to discover 4000-year-old rock drawings and the many other spectacular treasures this vast wilderness holds in store. As with any expedition into a desert area, trekkers should always be well-equipped. It is easy to get lost in this maze of mountains and desert, so it’s best to take a Bedouin guide. Always carry a map of the area and a compass, as well as plenty of water, sunblock and a hat.


Um Al Jimmal

The eastern most of the major northern cities, Umm Al-Jimal is located at the edge of the eastern basalt desert plain, along a secondary road that was close to the junction of several ancient trade routes that linked central Jordan with Syria and Iraq.

Among the most interesting structures to visit are the tall barracks with their little chapel, several large churches, numerous open and roofed water cisterns, the outlines of a Roman fort, and the remains of several town gates.



Um Rassas

Excavations in Umm Ar-Rasas have uncovered some of the finest Byzantine church mosaics, including a large carpet depicting Old and New Testament cities on both the east and west banks of the Jordan River.

Another feature at Umm Ar-Rasas walled settlement is a 15m Byzantine tower used by early Christian monks seeking solitude.





Iraq Al-Amir

Iraq Al-Amir is within the municipality of Amman in the Jordan Valley. Located about 15km southwest of the town of Wadi Al-Seer, it has a population of about 6,000 people.

Located on the hills, the area has many springs and is famous for its olive trees, in addition to other forest trees. About 0.5km south of the town is the historical site of Al-Iraq.

It was built by a Persian prince in the 3rd century BC. There are many caves in the hills that date back to the Copper Age.


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 site has now been identified on the east bank of the Jordan River, in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and is being systematically surveyed, excavated, restored, and prepared to receive pilgrims and visitors. Bethany Beyond the Jordan is located half an hour by car from Amman. The Bethany area sites formed part of the early Christian pilgrimage route between Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and Mount

Nebo. The area is also associated with the biblical account of how the Prophet Elijah (Mar Elias in Arabic) ascended to heaven in a whirlwind on a chariot of fire.
Mai’n SPA Village

Visitors to the Dead Sea should also take advantage of another nearby wonder, Hammamat Ma’in (Ma’in Hot Springs). Popular with both locals and tourists alike, 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.
Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo is a 1,000m (3,300ft) high mountain located 10km/6 mi NW of Madaba in Jordan, opposite the northern end of the Dead Sea.

According to ancient tradition, this is the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land before he died. Because of its connection to Moses, Mt. Nebo has long been an important place of Christian pilgrimage.

Excavations led by the Franciscans, who own the site, have uncovered significant remains of the early church and its magnificent Byzantine mosaics. A simple modern shelter dedicated to Moses has been built over them.
Wadi Al-Moujib

The Mujib Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world, with a 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 900 metres 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 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 of the 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.
Desert Castles:

During the height of the Umayyad dynasty, architecture flourished with the cultural exchange that accompanied growing trade routes.

By 750 CE, when the Umayyad dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasids of Baghdad, a richly characteristic Muslim architecture was evolving, owing considerably to the cosmopolitan influence of builders and craftsmen drawn from Egypt, Mesopotamia and elsewhere throughout the region. Today it is possible to see many relics of the early and medieval Islamic periods in Jordan.

Dotted throughout the steppe-like terrain of eastern Jordan and the central hills are numerous historic ruins, including castles, forts, towers, baths, caravan inns and fortified palaces. Known collectively as the desert castles or desert palaces, they were originally part of a chain stretching from north of Damascus down to Khirbet al-Mafjar, near Ariha (or Jericho).

There are various theories about the purpose of the desert palaces, yet the lack of a defensive architectural design suggests that most were built as recreational retreats. The early Arab rulers' love of the desert led them to build or take over these castles, which appear to have been surrounded by artificial oases with fruit, vegetables and animals for hunting. Other theories suggest that they came to the desert to avoid epidemics which plagued the big cities, or to maintain links with their fellow Bedouin, the bedrock of their power.
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