As Middle Eastern cities go, Amman is a relative youth, and though it lacks the storied history and thrilling architectural tapestry of other regional capitals
there’s plenty here to encourage you to linger awhile before making for Petra, the Dead Sea or Wadi Rum. In fact, Amman is one of the easiest cities in which to enjoy the Middle East experience.
Amman is the capital and largest city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with a population of more than four million.
The city has two distinct parts:
urbane Western Amman, with leafy residential districts, cafes, bars, modern malls and art galleries
and earthy Eastern Amman, where it’s easier to sense the more traditional and conservative pulse of the capital.
At the heart of the city is the chaotic, labyrinthine ‘downtown’, an Amman must-see. At the bottom of the city’s many hills,
and overlooked by the magisterial Citadel, it features spectacular Roman ruins, an international-standard museum and the hubbub of mosques
souqs and coffeehouses that are central to Jordanian life.
Amman forms a great base for exploring not just Jordan
but the wider region as well and does, despite popular belief, offer much that is of interest to the traveller.
The city is generally reasonably well-organized, enjoys great weather for much of the year and the people are very friendly.
Its history, however, goes back many millennia.
The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites, which later fell to the Assyrians.
It was dominated briefly by the Nabataeans before it became a great Roman trade centre and was renamed Philadelphia.
After the Islamic conquests
became part of the Muslim empire and experienced a slow decline, until the Ottomans were forced out by the Allies, with the help of the Hashemites
who formed a monarchy that continues to rule until the present.
Its history, however, goes back many millennia. The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites,
which later fell to the Assyrians. It was dominated briefly by the Nabataeans before it became a great Roman trade centre and was renamed Philadelphia.
After the Islamic conquests, Amman became part of the Muslim empire and experienced a slow decline, until the Ottomans were forced out by the Allies, with the help of the Hashemites, who formed a monarchy that continues to rule until the present.
Although Amman can be difficult to penetrate at first sight, the city holds many surprises for the visitor.
(Sa-M only 10:00-14:00, foreigners 5 JD) – Definitely a must-see! A big building only a short walk from the centre of Amman (although the locals don’t really know much about where it is).
It’s free, and quite interactive; one of the few museums with signs “Please touch”. It holds a very scientifically expressed exhibition about the history of Jordan and a bit about Petra.
or ‘small house of the arts’ in Jabal el Weibdeh, overlooking the heart of Amman, is housed in three adjacent villas from the 1920s (and the remains of a sixth-century Byzantine church built over a Roman Temple), it has a permanent collection and also holds changing exhibitions. In the same area there are other small art galleries and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.
near the 1st Circle in Jabal Amman is an interesting area to walk around and explore,
it is named after the old Rainbow Cinema which is now out of use
but the area has been recently experiencing a revival with many of the old houses being restored and put into use
in the area there are some cafes and bars including Books@cafe and Wild Jordan both with great views, a Hammam
the Royal Film Commission which sometimes holds outdoor screenings on its patio and some interesting small shops.
Across the street from the British Council on Rainbow St.,
there is the refreshing Turtle Green Tea Bar where everything is in English and you can borrow a laptop to access the internet while enjoying your snack.
Most places there offer free Wi-Fi, yet expect to pay JOD3.5 for a cup of coffee.
Although the capital of a diverse kingdom, Amman is not what one would call “packed” with things to see, making it a great gateway to explorations further afield. Even so, the city does hold a few items of historical and cultural interest (allow about 2 days to see them).
The cultural scene in Amman has seen some increased activities, notably cultural centres and clubs such as Makan House, Al Balad Theater, the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative, Remall, and Zara gallery. Around the 1st of September the Jordan Short Film Festival takes place. edit
It is highly advisable to see the sunset from the view point near the Citadel. But pay also your attention to the time of the muezzin call. If you listen to it from the view point, where the whole city lies before you, you get the unforgettable acoustic impression.
Besides touring the city, shopping is also advisible for the traveler.
has grown tremendously over the past few years and probably comes right behind neighbouring Beirut and Tel Aviv in the region, there are now quite a few trendy clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in (mostly West) Amman that you should make an effort to check out.
Abdali, a section of downtown Amman, is being transformed into a modern center for tourists and natives alike. The plan includes a broad pedestrian boulevard where visitors can shop, eat, or do numerous other activities. New office buildings and residential hi-rises are being constructed. “New Abdali” should have been completed by 2010, however, this has been delayed and the first phase is now expected to be completed in early 2014. .
Compared with other capital cities, Amman is a very safe place to visit. Jordanian police and the military maintain a tight grip on law and order. Personal safety is high in Amman – it is safe to walk anywhere in the city at any time of day or night. Serious crime is extremely rare.
Jordan is a majority Muslim country with a large Christian population too. Jordanian people are mostly very welcoming to any foreign visitors.