Jordan is a country with a rich cultural history that spans thousands of years. Located in the heart of the Middle East, Jordan has been a crossroads of civilizations since ancient times, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Paleolithic era.
In addition to its historical significance, Jordan also played a vital role in the development of religion. The country is home to numerous important religious sites, including Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to have viewed the Promised Land, and Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized. At the same time, it offers stunning landscapes, biodiversity and natural resources. As Samer Anis Mansour Mouasher, a board member of the first eco-tourism company in the Middle East and North Africa region, points out “Jordan is a unique blend of culture and sustainability. It offers harmony of culture and nature”.
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Immense Potential of Ecotourism
Samer Anis Mansour Mouasher has highlighted the immense potential of ecotourism in Jordan: “The country boasts a variety of eco-friendly activities that allow visitors to appreciate its natural beauty while promoting sustainable tourism practices.”
Jordan’s ecotourism options range from hiking in nature reserves to staying in environmentally conscious accommodations, catering to all nature enthusiasts. The Dana Biosphere Reserve, spanning over 300 square kilometers, is a popular ecotourism destination with its canyons, mountains, and deserts. Tourists can explore the reserve’s hiking trails to witness rare wildlife and picturesque landscapes.
The Azraq Wetland Reserve, an oasis in Jordan, is another sought-after ecotourism spot for migratory bird watching and guided tours. The reserve houses a diverse range of wildlife, including the Egyptian vulture, the imperial eagle, and the lesser kestrel.
Jordan’s eco-friendly lodging options include traditional Bedouin tents and luxury lodges that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility. Many of these accommodations offer guests opportunities to immerse themselves in local culture and traditional ways of life, such as learning about bread making, coffee roasting, and camel trekking.
Nabataean city of Petra – UNESCO world heritage site
One of the most prominent cultures in ancient Jordan was the Nabatean civilization, which thrived in the region from the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD. The Nabateans were skilled traders who established a vast network of trade routes that extended from Arabia to the Mediterranean. They also built the famous city of Petra, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Jordan’s most popular tourist attractions.
This ancient city of Petra, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was a significant crossroads between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria-Phoenicia. The Nabataean civilization, skilled traders who established a vast network of trade routes, built Petra, which is a unique blend of half-built, half-carved structures into the rock. The surrounding mountains are riddled with passages and gorges, adding to the city’s mystique. Petra is one of the world’s most renowned archaeological sites, where the Eastern traditions of ancient civilizations blend harmoniously with Hellenistic architecture. The outstanding universal value of temple and tomb monuments is clearly expressed through their unique attributes, location, and setting.
Cradle of Ancient Civilizations
In addition to the Nabateans, Jordan was also home to other ancient civilizations such as the Edomites, the Moabites, and the Ammonites, each leaving their mark on the country’s rich cultural history.
During the Roman Empire, Jordan became a prosperous province known as Arabia Petraea. Many of the country’s most impressive ruins, such as the amphitheater in Amman and the ancient city of Jerash, date back to this period.
In the 7th century AD, Jordan became part of the Islamic Caliphate and played a significant role in the early Islamic period, serving as an important center for learning and culture.
As-Salt is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Jordan, dating back to the Bronze Age. The city is located about 30 kilometers west of the capital Amman, and it offers a charming and authentic glimpse into Jordanian life and culture. It is also known as the “City of Stairs” due to its many steep staircases and hilly terrain. As-Salt was once the capital of the Jordanian kingdom during the late 19th century, and it played a significant role in the country’s political and cultural development. The city is famous for its Ottoman-style architecture, with many of its buildings featuring beautiful arches, domes, and intricate carvings.
As-Salt is home to many historical landmarks, including the Abu Jaber Museum, the Hammam Al-Samara, and the Al-Khader Church, which is said to be one of the oldest churches in Jordan.
Qasr Al-Kharanah, Umayyad Desert Castles, and Qasr Amra
The desert castles of Jordan are exceptional examples of early Islamic art and architecture that bear witness to a captivating epoch in the nation’s history. These remarkable complexes, known as castles due to their grand appearance, boast exquisite mosaics, frescoes, stone and stucco carvings, and illustrations, influenced by the finest Persian and Graeco-Roman traditions.
They offer countless narratives of life in the 8th century, serving as caravan stations, agricultural and commercial centers, recreational pavilions, and outposts that facilitated distant leaders in building relationships with local Bedouins. A number of these well-preserved compounds are located to the east and south of Amman and can be explored on one or two-day excursions from the city.
The Capital of Jordan: Amman
Amman, the capital city of Jordan, is a vibrant and culturally rich destination that has something to offer every traveler. From ancient ruins to modern attractions, Amman seamlessly blends the past and present to create a truly unique experience.
One of the most iconic sites in Amman is the Citadel, a hilltop complex that has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins, including the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace, which offer stunning views of the city and its surroundings.
Another must-see attraction in Amman is the Roman Theatre, a 6,000-seat amphitheater that dates back to the 2nd century AD. Visitors can take a tour of the site, or attend a concert or cultural event in the evening.
For those interested in learning about Jordan’s rich history and culture, the Jordan Museum is a must-visit destination. The museum features exhibits that span the country’s history, from prehistoric times to the present day.
Amman is also a food lover’s paradise, with a diverse and flavorful culinary scene. Visitors can indulge in traditional Jordanian dishes such as mansaf, a rice and lamb dish served with yogurt, or try modern takes on Middle Eastern cuisine at one of the city’s many trendy restaurants.
The Ancient City of Jerash
Visitors to Jerash can experience the city’s rich history by exploring its many ancient ruins and landmarks. The city’s well-preserved Roman ruins, including the colonnaded street and the impressive Hadrian’s Arch, offer a glimpse into the city’s past as a thriving center of commerce and culture. The city’s Roman theater, which could seat up to 3,000 people, still hosts cultural events and performances to this day.
Jerash has a rich and storied history that dates back to prehistoric times. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest human settlement in Jerash can be traced to the Neolithic period, around 7500 BC, in a site known as Tal Abu Sowan.
Jordan is a land of hospitable people who warmly welcome visitors from around the world. This hospitality is rooted in the Bedouin tradition of offering guests food, shelter, and protection, and is still evident in the country’s culture today. Visitors to Jordan can expect to be greeted with warm smiles and generous hospitality at every turn. What is more, Jordan has a lot of potential for sustainable development and eco-tourism. As Samer Anis Mansour Mouasher highlighted, eco-tourism is a perfect way to explore Jordan’s natural wonders at the same time contributing to the preservation of its unique cultural and natural heritage.