Northern ruins describes a number of disparate trips we did in the north of the country. Including to Jerash, the most famous Roman ruins in Jordan, Umm Qais, another Roman site but beautifully situated above the sea of Galillee, more Roman ruins at the attractively sited Pella and Machaerus, the citadel overlooking the Dead Sea where John the Baptist lost his head. I’ve also included trips to the town of Madaba famous for its churches and mosaics and the forest reserve of Ajloun.
We went to Ajloun in November 2008, when we thought it would still be warm and sunny. We were mistaken. The weekend we went was unseasonably cold but fortunately the cabin where we stayed had a great little parafin stove which kept the place lovely and warm throughout the night. Ajloun reserve is a very small reserve – just a few square kilometres it seemed but is an important remnant eco system of what formerly covered a lot of northern Jordan. It is famous for the pygmy oak and pistaccio trees. It is also run by the RSCN and so has very comfortable (if expensive!) facilities. Anyway, it was a nice break from Amman and of course we took some photos.
We went to Pella in April 2008. We wanted to see the ruins but also we wanted to see the spring flowers. We weren’t disappointed with the ruins but we were with the flowers because there weren’t any – the winter had been so dry that few had appeared this year and those that had, had already come and gone. As you will see below we just saw a few thistles.
Pella is is the Jordan valley and so it is a descent from Amman. Here is the sign for sea level and as you can see it’s still a fair way down to the valley in the distance.
One of our first trips in Jordan was to Machaerus in October ’07. It’s a breathtaking site South West of Madaba in hills overlooking the Dead Sea. The place was totally desolate. Our destination was the palace of Herod the Great where his successor Herod Antipas chopped off John the Baptist’s head at the behest of sexy Salome. The palace was built in 30BC so there’s not much to see now – just breathtaking views with the Dead Sea in the background….
Of course there are still plenty of mosques.
On another trip we visited the ancient Roman city of Jerash, supposedly one of the best preserved Roman Cities in the Middle East. I have to say I didn’t think it was as impressive as some of the ruins in Tunisia, perhaps because of its position near the modern town of the same name, but still justifiably famous
After Jerash we headed further north right into the corner where Jordan meets Syria and Israel. Here was another Roman ruin – that of Umm Qais. Like a lot of places in Jordan it also has a famous Jesus story. Apparently here he cast demons out of two men into a herd of pigs (As told in the book of Matthew). It also has some great views and very importantly a great little restaurant right in the ruins. The site overlooks the Sea of Galilee and also across to the Golan Heights.
Apparently it can get pretty windy in these parts as well!
More photos here