Jerash

The following few days of our visit to Jordan we’ll be more tourists and less hikers. We’re heading south and we started our journey with a visit to Aljoun. our destination today is the Dead Sea and Aljoun Castle was en-route. We’d read good things about the area so decided to pay a visit.

Standing 1250 meters above sea level this 12th Century fortress was built under the rule of the sultan Saladin. The castle is set on top of Mount ‘Auf and provides fabulous views of the Jordan Valley, indeed as a military fortress the views were key to its existence, providing excellent sight of invading crusaders.

We followed Google’s direction and drove up and up out of town. Our Hire Car is tiny. Gerry calls it a rollerskate and today it was tested to the limit with some of the steep hills and sharp bends. But whilst we trundled along in 1st and 2nd gear we counted our blessings that we weren’t having to walk.

We parked a little down from the castle and continued up on foot. When we reached the top we realised that we could have driven even closer but no matter, we’re meant to love walking! Our Jordan pass was checked and stamped as we entered. I thoroughly recommend getting a Jordan Pass. Buy it online before you arrive and it provides you with your visa to enter Jordan as well as entrance for most of the country’s monuments.

We wandered around the interior of the castle and up onto the upper floors. It reminded me of a fortress we visited many years ago near Perpignan. It’s not a beautiful castle, its functional and I guess it was never intended to be a Palace but the views are remarkable and it’s interesting to see how the landscapes had changed; this area is much more forested.

We walked back to the car and set off for today’s main attraction, the ancient city of Jerash. As we drove I rummaged in a little shopping bag for a date. Gerry bought a box a few days ago and we nibble on them in the car as we drive. I was about to eat mine when I noticed it had become home to a wiggly little worm… euww. We both decided we weren’t hungry and I don’t see us munching on too many of those dates now.

Within 30 minutes we’d reached Jerash. This is a big city and the traffic was much more frantic and a little less courteous! I was very happy when we pulled into a parking space and made our way on foot!

Jerash (or Gerasa, Gerash or Gerasha) in ancient times was one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in the ancient Near East. Settled by humans as early as the Neolithic period (c. 7500-5500 BCE) and founded as a Hellenistic city in the 2nd century BC, Jerash is today noted for its fine Roman and Byzantine ruins, which rank among the largest and best preserved in the world. We read about the city’s history… it reads like the Who’s Who of the ancient world… it seems as though everyone of importance has been here.

What can we say? Seriously there are some amazing sights. The site is huge. Allow 3 hours but you could easily spend 4 and still feel rushed. It’s just vast. We started at Hadrian’s Gate and kept walking. We deviated left or right if we thought there was something different to see. Oh my gosh… there is just so much. We only stopped looking because it was closing. What an amazing afternoon.

We returned to the car… feeling quite weary after walking for hours. On went the aircon and we put tonight’s hotel into the satnav. We pondered in the car which ruins we preferred. Umm Qais yesterday was more intimate and had the most amazing setting. Jerash today was staggering, with so much to see, but its located within a busy city, but if you’re in Jordan you HAVE to visit.

Tonight we’re in a resort hotel. We missed the simple accommodation we had for the last few nights but the luxury of the bedroom is great and we have a great view over the pool and the sea. I’m sure we’ll enjoy the comfort and I know in a week we might be dreaming of this soft bed and the swimming pool.

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