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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Ancient Jerash, Jordan

Exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Jerash, Jordan

In 2015 I embarked on an epic trip with G Adventures through the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. This was a fantastic once in a lifetime tour and I got to see some of the country's finest sights including the legendary city of Petra, the bizarre Dead Sea, the vast expanse of the Wadi Rum Desert and the fabled Mount Nebo. Jordan truly is a marvellous place full of ancient history, beautiful wild landscapes and friendly people. One sight that I wasn't expecting to be as interesting and exciting was the ancient city of Jerash – I had not really researched this place beforehand so didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a true highlight!

Hadrian's Gate at the main entrance

Jerash – A history lesson

The modern city of Jerash lies approximately 50km to the north of Amman and has a population of 50,700 as of 2015. Some form of settlement has stood at the sight of Jerash since the Bronze Age and it has seen continual human activity since this period. During the Roman era, an immense city was built and Jerash was a prosperous hub for trade and the Roman economy. Many monuments were erected to celebrate the visit of Emperor Hadrian that still stand today. The ruins of Jerash or Gerasa stand in fantastic condition today and lie in close proximity to the modern city. Ancient Gerasa stands as one of the most important examples of a Roman city in the Near East.

Remains of a stone pilar

Location – Getting to Jerash

As stated, Jerash actually lies to the north of Amman and is not en-route to the other tourist destinations in Jordan. As a group, we travelled to Jerash before heading on to the other sites and this was the first place we visited – The coach took approximately 2 hours to reach the ancient city from the capital of Jordan and the scenery en-route was amazing. You would not think so, but Jordan actually has a varied landscape that combines dessert, canyon lands and also verdant farmland. The entrance and cap park to Jerash is located just off of the main 20 road that runs through the centre of the modern town.

Stone column in the main forum
Beautiful Mosaic Tiles Stunning countryside surrounding Jerash One of the main ampitheatres Tunnels inside the ruins Closeup of the Ampitheatre steps One of the main roads through Jerash leading to the forum Detailed artwork on the column bases Columned walkway leading to the forum and temples Stone column base that resembled a face

The main sights

Jerash is a huge site and it is advisable to dedicate a whole afternoon or morning to see everything it has to offer. We spent many hours wandering through the ancient ruins and we could have easily spent more time there! I loved every second of the tour and I am so glad that we got to see this Roman settlement. I have now seen many ancient buildings including the ruins of Pompeii, the Colosseum in Rome, the temples of Petra, and Jerash definitely ranks up there as one of the most interesting and well-preserved. The city is split into several different sections and you have a continual reminder of the mix of old and new as the current city of Jerash sits just to the east of the ruins.

The stunning landscape of Jerash

Hadrian's Arch - This is one of the first structures we saw and it is truly monumental. Standing at maybe 30ft high, the arch served as the gateway into Jerash and was constructed specifically for the Emperor Hadrian's visit. Columns frame the arch and the decoration and artwork is still visible.

Hadrian's Gate

Forum - This was undoubtedly the main centrepiece of the city and was truly impressive, especially when viewed from above. The forum was a n oval plaza surrounded by a series of decorative columns - The scale and symmetry of this plaza was truly fantastic to see. Two main streets ran off from the forum, one of which was the equally impressive Cardo Maximus.

Looking down onto the ancient Forum

Cardo Maximus - As mentioned above, this was a colossal road that spans for over 600m. The road would have once been a hive of activity and lined with various shops and houses. It wasn't too hard to image how impressive the Cardo Maximums would have looked in its original form - Great columns still line the road today and it is filled with decorative stonework.

Stonework lining the Cardo Maximus

Amphitheatre - This theatre is truly monumental and would have held 3000 guests. It stands in remarkable condition today and you can still see the semi-circular seating and also the decoration and colouring of the stage and performance area. As I sat on one of the stone seats, I could picture epic tales being retold here and the noise of thousands of guests cheering and laughing as the artists and performers worked their magic.

The impressive Roman Ampitheatre

Temple of Artemis - This temple was dedicated to the goddess Artemis who was an important figure in Roman Mythology and was the patron of wild animals, the hunt and childbirth. The remains of the temple are still in great shape and many of the original columns still stand together with a great deal of detail in the interior. Furthermore, some of its original outside walls were also complete and the window arches and frames could still be seen.

The fabled Temple of Artemis

Other sites included the Nympheum temple, the impressive temple of Zeus, and the Hippodrome - Each of which was just as impressive as the next site. When exploring the site of ancient Jerash, I would recommend wearing comfortable and hardy footwear as you will be walking over uneven ground and cobbles. Furthermore, make sure you take plenty of water and some snacks to keep your hydration and energy levels topped up. My time at Jerash was simply amazing and the site really is a fantastic tribute to the ingenuity, creativity and power of the Romans.

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