Of Citadels and Amphitheatres: A day in Amman, Jordan

So, after the fiasco last night with the flight, I was asleep in Amman like a blissful log.

The Jordan Tower hotel, was located in the historic region of downtown Amman, next to the Roman amphitheatre and the Nymphaeum. I choose it for the location, its proximity to everything important in Amman, and more importantly, because it was the cheapest among the options that hostelworld gave me.

Woke up in the morning to the most glorious view ever, that of historic Amman looking up at me, with all its hustle and bustle. The view was so amazing, that I decided that taking a chaotic trip now would be insulting this city.

So, I went back to sleep, not to wake up till noon.

Amman morning from my hostel window.

Amman morning from my hostel window.

At noon, I woke up and had a delayed breakfast, took my copy of the lonely planet and set out to find out the roman amphitheatre. I didn’t have to walk much, not even a minute, because I totally forgot that the amphitheatre was next to my hostel. With a ticket price of 1 JD, I could get an entry into the Amphitheatre, the nearby Jordan culture museum, and the odeon, which was like a smaller amphitheatre.

Roman amphitheatre in Amman

Roman amphitheatre in Amman.

Outside the Odeon, in Amman, Jordan

Outside the Odeon

Jordanian culture museum

The Jordanian culture museum, located right next to the amphitheatre

Hashemite square, which was next to the amphitheatre, was a chilled out venue where I could sit down and eat some falafel. Now, falafel deserve a special mention when you are in Jordan, because if you are on a budget trip like me, all you need to eat is falafel. You can get 3 of them for 1 JD, and they are good for breakfast, lunch and dinner! So, throughout my day, I kept gorging on them, so the thought of grabbing a ‘proper’ lunch or dinner never came up.

From the amphitheatre and Odeon, I could have walked a little further down to the Nymphaeum, but that would have to wait another day, because I had to catch the citadel before it closed at 4 PM.

The citadel, or the jabal-al-qala, is located on, well, al-qala street, and is a short 15 minute walk from the downtown city centre. It’s an uphill walk, but hey, it was a cold, tortuous December in Amman, and I decided to take any exercise that I could get.

Citadel complex in Amman

Citadel complex in Amman. At a distance, you can see the temple of Hercules, or whatever is left of it.

The ticket cost was JD2. But it covered the whole citadel complex. Of all the antiquities mentioned, the ones I remember very clearly are the temple of Hercules (mind you, there is no temple. There are only remains of the temple), the byzantine church (mind you, there is no church. There are only remains of the church), and the Umayyad palace.  Luckily, the Umayyad palace was not completely run down like the first 2 places, and I could still see the beautiful dome. And the view from Umayyad palace is beautiful, capturing the whole of Amman.

Umayyad palace in Amman.

Umayyad palace, which is located inside the citadel complex in Amman

As a side-visit, you could also visit the national Archaeological museum, which is inside the citadel complex. You don’t need to pay anything extra, and the museum had some interesting artefacts, separated by the periods in which they were made. One bummer was that the famous dead sea scrolls were moved from here to the Jordan museum, which I was told was not yet opened as well.

By this time it was 5 PM, and I could feel the December chill slicing through my bones. I had a pullover, but it absolutely does not help in Amman. And since I was already told that Petra need some heavy-duty winter wear, I decided to buy one more pullover, which I wore on top of the pullover that I was already wearing! Yep, it was that cold!

Even that wasn’t helping! It was then that I saw a happy hour offer (in Islamic Jordan??!!!) serving beers. I walked in, and checked the beers on offer. What do you know, they had local beers manufactured in Jordan. One was called ‘Petra’ with 10% alcohol, and the other called ‘Philadelpia’, with 5% alcohol. Both cost the same, so I went with the 10% alcohol. If I was going to Petra anyway, might as well get loaded on it before I went.

Petra beer in Jordan

Getting high on Petra much earlier than I had planned.



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About Abhi Surendran

Abhi quit his corporate job, and decided to immerse himself in travels, photography, occasional periods of bankruptcy, and copious amounts of insanity. He is currently working on a book of his experiences, and a dream road trip through South Asia. Both in a haphazard fashion. He blogs at Iamnothome and you can also catch him at times on Facebook and twitter.

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