Situated close to the Jordanian-Syrian border are the ruins of the ancient town of Umm Al Jimal. It is made up of more than 150 buildings including 128 houses and 15 churches. Due to the excellent preservation and lack of vandalism, Um Al Jimal ruins remain intact making it a marvelous place to see. Today the site is part of an archaeological research project to find out more about the historical context of the area.
Location of the Umm Al Jimal Ruins
The Umm Al Jimal ruins are located close to the Jordanian-Syrian border on volcanic basalt from the volcanic region of Jebel Druze. The nearest city is Zarqa which is around 50 minutes by car from the ruins. The larger cities of Amman and Irbid are located around one hour and 15 minutes away. Visitors can reach the site by rental car, or, join an organized tour from one of the cities. The closest town to Umm Al Jimal is Al Mafraq which is just 14 kilometers away. Visitors will find hotels and plenty of places to eat in Mafraq.
Referred to as the Black Gem of the Desert, there is very little historical information about Umm Al Jimal. Umm Al Jimal is believed to have originated in the first century AD. An earthquake in the 8th Century destroyed many buildings and forced the civilians to flee the town. Some of the town including the barracks was built by the Romans and the adjoining chapel was built during the Byzantine era.
Things to See at the Umm Al Jimal Ruins
The Roman Barracks is a large structure located close to the entrance of the town. The towers that can be seen on the barracks were a later addition and the chapel dates back to the 5th Century linking it to the Byzantine era.
Archaeologists believe that this section of the site was once a Nabataean temple. Though it is difficult to tell that it is a temple due to the damage of the building, there is an altar located here which is the defining feature of the temple.
The sheikh’s house is identifiable by the large courtyard and stables. The sheikh’s house also contains a distinct basalt door and a number of stairways.
How to Visit the Umm Al Jimal Ruins
Umm Al Jimal is free to enter and is open during the hours of daylight which varies throughout the year.
Though it is slightly tucked out of the way from the usual tourist trail, a visit to Umm Al Jimal Ruins will guarantee a more authentic Jordanian experience. Visitors can stay in the nearby town of Mafraq for a slightly quieter alternative to the bustling cities of Amman and Irbid.