With its Roman ruins and rolling hills, Jordan’s capital, Amman, is much more than a gateway to Petra, Wadi Rum or the Dead Sea. It may not boast the grandeur of its neighbours, but Amman is a vibrant Middle Eastern citywhich possesses a beguiling mixof youthful, cosmopolitan vibes and Arabic traditions. Set to the east of the Ajlun Mountains, Amman’s population has grown rapidly over the last century, becoming home to Palestinian, Iraqi and, more recently, Libyan and Syrian refugees. The once-sleepy city has serious aspirations and its tourism industry is fast-growing. Despite the hotels and holiday complexes dotted around the city, there is no escaping from the tranquillity and warmth of the city’s steep, winding hills and white-stone buildings. This ancient city seems to open its welcoming arms and warm heart to everyone and everything: migrants, tourists, the contemporary, the ancient and the traditional, while remaining true to its Middle-Eastern roots. One thing is certain: if you take a trip to Amman, you will be rewarded with a truly unforgettable experience.
Direct Flights to Amman will bring you to Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), 20 miles from the city centre.
The climate in Jordan varies dramatically across the country; Amman, Petra and Wadi Rum are more than 800 metres above sea level, so they experience cooler nights and winters than the lower lying regions, but they are not as cold as Dana and Ailoun, which are up to 1500 metres above sea level. During summer, temperatures in Amman can soar into the 40s, making it a little too hot for many sightseers. Winter, on the other hand, can get bitterly cold and snow is not unusual. During spring and autumn, temperatures hover in the mid-twenties, dropping dramatically at night, making it the most popular time for people to visit Amman. If you are looking for cheap flights to Amman and don’t mind searing temperatures, plan your trip in the summer months, when you can enjoy the sights unencumbered by hordes oftourists.
It is hard to define Ammani culture, because the city’s residents hail from such an array of backgrounds. A true melting pot, most of the city’s inhabitants originate from somewhere else. Like a babel of cultures, Circassians, Palestinians, Syrians and Iraqis live side by side. Poverty-stricken refugees walk the streets alongside prosperous entrepreneurs; Christian and Muslim neighbours raise a hand in greeting to each other, and Palestinian Jordanians assert their nationality when confronted with their East Bank counterparts. It is not always harmonious, but there is an air of acceptance as this cacophony of cultures eases through the winding streets and soaring hills of Amman, seeping through the city’s foundations to find their place among the native Bedouin traditions. These cultures are evident at every turn, and, just as you might examine the beauty of a single tree in a vast forest, it is worth taking the time to pick out the details as well as enjoying the vibe of the city as a whole.
Amman is divided into two main parts: Eastern Amman, with its more traditional, conservative feel, and Western Amman, whose cafes, bars, malls and art galleries tip a nod to the city’s urbane aspirations. Downtown Amman is the physical and literal heart of the city, where you will discover Amman’s incredible Roman ruins as well as the mosques, cafes and souks that form a central part of life in the city. Presiding over the city on Jebel al-Qala’a, Amman’s highest hill, is the area known as the Citadel. At 850 metres above sea level, the site has been occupied since the Bronze Age, when it served as a fortress and agora (marketplace and political centre). The surrounding wall, which is over a mile long, has been rebuilt and altered numerous times over the Bronze and Iron Ages, and the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods, bearing testimony to the city’s rich history. The Citadel offers stunning views across Amman and the surrounding area, and plenty of architectural delights within its walls, the most famous and impressive of which are the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. On your trip to Amman, make sure you visit the Roman Theatre, which is said by many to be the crowning glory of the city’s architecture. Built in the 2nd Century AD, the three-tiered amphitheatre seats 6,000 people. The theatre is incredible at any time of day, but aim for early morning for the best light for photos, or sunset, when the views from the top tier are magnificent. If you plan your trip for the summer months, check to see if there are any theatre productions at the theatre – a truly spectacular experience.
Amman’s world-class museum, the Jordan Museum, is well worth a visit and will help you to get to grips with Jordan’s vast history. The beautiful contemporary building draws you in to its intricate atrium, before taking you on a journey through Jordan’s peoples, from its first people to modern life. You can see Bronze Age displays, Jordan’s Dead Sea Scrolls, remains discovered at Petra and insights into Bedouin life. However, the highlight is the oldest-known statues of humans, which were discovered at Ain Ghazal and are estimated to be 8,000 years old.The variety, quality and quantity of displays is mesmerising, and will leave your mind a-whirl with information and a desire to discover more of Amman. While there is plenty of history, culture and architecture to discover on your trip to Amman, the burgeoning art scene can’t be ignored. Head to Darat al Funun, a magnificent white-stone building to the north of downtown Amman, near the excavated ruins of a 6th Century church. Here you will find contemporary exhibitions by Jordanian, Arab and international artists, workshops and an art library. The gallery is set in a suburb of restored 1920s properties, one of which is where TE Lawrence is reported to have written part of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Street food is a great way to explore a city’s cultural influences and Amman’s streets are packed with the alluring scents of food from its various cultures. The old town is teeming with street stalls purveying delicacies with Egyptian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian influences. Rich, creamy hummus sits beside crisp falafels in delicious flatbreads; bowls of stewed fava beans are the perfect accompaniment to wraps laden with grilled chicken and lamb, covered in tahini paste. Meals made with sesame, olive oil and pulses are staples – perfect washed down with an ice-cold sugarcane juice and a melt-in-the-mouth slice of baklava. Sticky, sweet, fresh and delicious; if the way to your heart is through your stomach, then Amman is sure to steal your heart. Amman is one of the world’s most underrated cities. It has a little of everything – chic bars, growing tourism and art sceneries, incredible architecture and historical remains that defy belief. Above all, Amman is a bright city with a big heart. If you want to explore these Middle Eastern delights and more, Travangelo can help you to find cheap flights to Amman.