Mention the Middle East to a friend and they are likely to automatically associate it with conflict. Yes, this region has received much negative attention in recent years but this does not mean that every country in the Middle East is unsafe for tourists.
The Middle East is a significant part of the world where ancient ruins sit side by side with glorious cities, vast deserts and a beautiful coastal landscape. Jordan is one Middle Eastern gem where foreign visitors have never been more welcome. Visit Jordan and you’ll be greeted with magnificent UNESCO World Heritage sites, stunning scenic walks and the warmth and generosity of the Jordanian people.
Jordan finds itself in a privileged position within The Middle East with the Red Sea in the southwest and the Dead Sea to the west. Jordan borders a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel and Egypt making it ideal for backpackers who wish to visit the ancient sites, beaches and cities from across the region. The country is also a gateway to Asia, Africa and Europe as it is positioned between all three continents. It is also a great place to include in a wider trip to the Middle East and Mediterranean, combining with tours in Greece, UAE, and even Italy.
History of Jordan
Jordan may have only become an independent state in 1946 but it has always played a vital role in the history books. The nation was once part of the Hashemite Kingdom and thanks to its geographical location it was crucial for trade and communication across Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Jordanian history dates back to the Paleolithic Period of 500,000 BCE and the remains of materials and tools from this period can still be viewed in museums across the country. Jordan was conquered by the Romans in 63BCE for four thousand years where it became part of the Decapolis League.
With the collapse of this empire, the Romans left behind a staggering collection of amphitheaters, coliseums, churches, and palaces which attract thousands of visitors to Jordan each year.
The people of Jordan pride themselves on creating a welcoming atmosphere, especially the Bedouin community. In fact, their genuine hospitality has been steeped within the Jordanian culture for centuries. The people of Jordan mainly speak Arabic but will always try their best to assist and make conversation with travelers.
As a result of their friendly nature, Jordan is an ideal destination for unique cultural experiences. Local people enjoy hosting travelers and will often invite visitors to the local café for some tea or a homemade meal.
Places to see in Jordan
Arguably one of the most architecturally beautiful locations in the world, Petra is the homeland of UNESCO World Heritage sites. This Nabatean city is located in Jordan’s desert where visitors will see jaw-dropping sites including Al-Khazneh and Ad Deir. Each monastery and temple in Petra is carved from sandstone into the cliff faces. It is believed that only 15% of this ancient city is visible with an astonishing 85% still to be uncovered. Visitors can explore the sites on foot or on top of a camel.
Madaba is a bustling city that is best known for its artistic beauty. Adorned with mosaics from the Byzantine Empire, Madaba is a colorful city steeped in history. As Madaba is home to quite a small population, it has the ambiance of a large market town rather than a city. This charm is what makes it one of the most welcoming Jordanian cities. Along with its stunning Byzantine designs, Madaba is the perfect place for shopping and dining.
Located directly on the Red Sea, Aqaba is a charming coastal city that combines ancient sites with luxury hotel resorts along with water activities including scuba diving and windsurfing. With easy connections to the city of Amman, Aqaba is an ideal destination for those who are visiting Jordan for the first time.
As the capital city of Jordan, Amman is a fantastic starting point for any Jordanian adventure. The city has all the metropolitan amenities along with phenomenal Roman sites. The Roman Theatre is a stone amphitheater from the 2nd Century that still hosts events on a regular basis. Along with significant Roman sites, Amman also boasts beautiful Islamic architecture including King Abdullah I Mosque which opened in 1989. The city still has plenty of things to do and incredible restaurants to try.
Home to a dramatic landscape that has captured the hearts of artists and explorers for centuries, Wadi Rum is a valley situated in southern Jordan. For those who wish to escape the city into the wilderness, this desert destination is the place for you. Also known as the Valley of the Moon due to the beautiful night’s sky, Wadi Rum is 2 kilometers of mountains, rock bridges, sand dunes and notable sites including the alleged house of Lawrence of Arabia. For thrill-seeking adventures, visitors can take on jeep rides, mountain climbing, and overnight camping.
Jordan is an important historical nation with incredible sites to match. There are many destinations in Jordan each with their own individual charm, and visitors should aim to stay in the country for at least two weeks in order to fully experience all it has to offer.