After a taxi ripoff, a taxi who tried to rip me off, two check points, a bus, and one last taxi, I finally rolled into Amman, Jordan. Much to my joy, the man at the desk of my hostel was a most welcoming chap. He directed me to a restaurant that served mansaf which is a Jordanian lamb dish served with rice, slivered almonds, and a slightly sour yogurt sauce. Heavenly.
I returned to a private room sans farting/snoring roommates and settled into a relaxed screening of the restored version of “Lawrence of Arabia.” As a lifelong film buff who has seen just about every film classic of the twentieth century, I’m embarrassed to admit that I somehow missed one of the greatest. Perhaps, it is due to my antipathy towards the desert or dry environments in general.
A friend brought this film to my attention recently, and given my plans in Jordan it became an absolute must see. Much of it was shot in Jordan and I will visit many of the locations where it was filmed, Wadi Rum and Aqaba in particular.
Also an amazing sequence from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was filmed at Petra where I will be spending four nights. People here are very friendly, and I was even blessed by the pharmacist who sold me more pain medicine for my shoulder. The Travel Zealot is feeling like his old self again albeit with a few aches, pains, and occasional heartburn.
SYDNEY HOTEL – A most delightful place at a good price. Just watch out for the bald guy.
BASSAM – This is your host with the most. Bassam is like having a concierge in a five star hotel.
Look here people, the United States is funding something positive in the Middle East!!!
THE NYMPHAEUM – Roman Public Fountain – 2nd. century AD
It was decorated with columns, statues, and nymphs.
ROMAN THEATER – Built during the time of Antenios Pius 138-161 AD
A WELL PRESERVED SPECIMEN
All of the seating is completely intact, and for all intents and purposes it is a functional theater.
Jordan has clearly gone to great lengths to preserve these ancient treasures.
ROMAN DRAIN – This would aid in the overall cleaning of the theater.
Here in Jordon the women are much more autonomous. You see them out and about having picnics, or sharing a sheesha and drinks at a local restaurant. This is reflected by the smiles on their faces.
Embarking on the arduous climb to the Citadel.
Sometimes there was a little street art to distract from all of the steps and hills.
The Jordanian flag flies above Amman.
A nice birds eye view of the Roman Theater with some ruins in the foreground.
And finally, The Citadel.
Corinthian Column Fragment
TEMPLE OF HERCULES
This great temple was dedicated to a supreme Roman deity. The temple has been attributed to the popular hero-god Hercules due to the discovery of gigantic arms of a marble statue near the temple area. Hercules was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman (Alcemene), and was known for his supernatural physical strength. Also, Hercules is depicted on Roman coins minted in the city, which was called Philadelphia at the time.
The Ayyubid Watch Tower – ca. 1220 AD
Masterful in military architecture, the Ayyubids built the guard’s watch tower, which affords an excellent defensive view over the city below and beyond.
EARLY BRONZE AGE CAVE – ca. 2250 BC
Can you imagine the size of the statue to which those knuckles were attached? The hand fragment belonged to a colossal statue from the Roman period, and was found near the Temple of Hercules. The statue is estimated to have stood over 13 meters high, making it one of the largest statues from Greco-Roman times.
Beautiful Glass In the Citadel Museum
BYZANTINE CHURCH – ca. 550 AD
Corinthian Capitals were taken from the Temple of Hercules and used here.
MONUMENTAL GATEWAY – ENTRANCE HALL – ca. 730 AD
This prominent monumental gateway was the formal entrance to the Umayyad Palace. Visitors would be screened here, and then wait to be announced to the governor before entering his palace beyond.
AUDIENCE HALL AND THRONE CHAMBER – ca. 730 AD
DESCENT TO DOWNTOWN AMMAN
RETURN TO THE ROMAN THEATER
HEY TRUMPY, THE TRAVEL ZEALOT SEZ, DROP FOOTBALLS NOT BOMBS BABY!!!
Before leaving Jerusalem, I had yet another dental repair, and the Palestinian dentist took care of it in short order. The day before, I was unable to distribute some footballs I had bought for the children in Palestinian Hebron, but the dentist was good enough to pass them onto a friend who could deliver them to the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. Once there, they will be given to Marwan, my former tour guide to be delivered to a Palestinian refugee camp.
Here I am in the square in front of the Roman Theater where Jordanian people gather, and kids enjoy roller blading and kicking around a football. A ball runs just under $3 which was irresistible so I snatched up three of them and proceeded to distribute them to kids that were soccer ball deficient.
My first recipient tests out his skills. I tried to give a one to a group of girls, but the oldest politely declined. I saw them join their father so I thought I’d give it one more shot since they’d probably been told not to accept things from strangers. I asked their Dad’s permission, and he approved. Well, two of the sisters just about jumped out of their skin with excitement, took off with the ball, and chased it across the square screaming and laughing.
Here they are in this blurry shot from about a hundred meters away.
COLIN THE CANADIAN
COLIN THE CANADIAN – ANOTHER SERIOUS TRAVEL ZEALOT – 76 COUNTRIES VISITED
While Colin regaled his audience with his non-materialstic, travel philosophy, I advised a young Jordanian about various methods for pursuing his dreams of travel. I have to say that I enjoy the role of Travelangelist. I was quite impressed with Colin’s Zen demeanor as he shared his views until some Jordanian Police happened along.
Clearly, having grappled with their compatriots throughout the day, he proceeded to lose his shit in a most unbridled, invective ridden, non-Canadian fashion. It certainly made me feel better about some of my testy moments during the last few years. Of course, in Colin’s case they are threatening his daily bread and mobility.
I’ve often thought about setting up on the streets of various cities, and preaching the Gospel of World Travel. In my case there would be no financial component. Perhaps I would pass out cards leading people to my blog, and hand out a half page flyer with information about other bloggers to help them to jump start their dreams.
It is my firm belief that the world would be a far better place if more people traveled.
DAY TRIP TO JERASH
ENTRANCE TO JERASH
Looming on the hill is the Great Temple of Zeus
THE OVAL PLAZA – Ca. 110 AD
This plaza is emblematic of the ancient city of Gerasa in its architecture, grandeur, and its development. The oval shape is unique and the plaza is built to connect the Cardo (the main street of Gerasa) with the Sanctuary of Zeus. In effect it is an enlargement of the street; an architectural means to join the two axis, which were not aligned, by widening the street in an oval shape in front of the main access point to the sanctuary.
While the plaza and the Ionic columns that line the perimeter were probably built in g the beginning of the 2nd. century AD, under the rule of Emperor Trajan, the paving came much later, not before the 4th. century AD.
Two small monuments decorated the center of this plaza: the first was a base for a group of statues, probably representing priestesses, which were offered by some high ranking members of the Hadriane-Helios tribbe of Gerasa. The second was a small base upon which stood four columns – a tetrakionion – which perhaps protected a statue of Hadrian.
TEMPLE OF ZEUS
THE SOUTH THEATER – Ca. 90 AD – 749 AD, ca 12th. century
The South Theater is the largest and oldest of three ancient theaters in Jarash, the other two being the North Theater and Birkentein Theater. This one is a typical Rman plan theater that was built between 80 and 96 AD, and it is estimated that it could seat more than three thousand people. Several inscriptions found here indicate that the theater was financed by a number of generous benefactors, including a former legionnaire.
Theaters were an important part of ancient Roman life, where cultural performances would be staged. The South Theater included an imposing and richly decorated stage with backdrop, or scaenae frons, made up of at least two superimposed levels of Corinthian columns. Sections of it were still visible in the early 19th. century.
Parts of the theater were ruined by the earthquake of 749 AD, after which it probably served as a fortress during Medieval times to shelter a small group of crusaders before Muslims re-conquered the region permanently. In 1878 the residents of Jarash began disassembling parts of the scaenae frons to build the houses of the new village. Despite these damages, today the theater is in good condition and is often used for concerts, particularly during the annual Jarash festival.
TEMPLE OF ZEUS – 162/163 AD
THE OVAL PLAZA – ca. 110 AD
This magnificent plaza is emblematic of the ancient city of Gerasa in its architecture, its grandeur, and its development. The oval shape is unique, and the plaza was actually built to connect the Cardo (the main street of Gerasa) with the sanctuary of Zeus.
TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS
TEMPLE OF ZEUS
THE OVAL PLAZA
HEADING TO AL QUDS RESTAURANT FOR MY FAVORITE DISH
MANSAF – MY FAVORITE JORDANIAN LAMB DISH