Ancient Jerash, the second most popular city with tourists, is located in a valley surrounded by wooded hills and fertile valleys. Today it is recognized as one of the best preserved provincial Roman cities in the world. And this is not surprising: for centuries the city was hidden under tons of sand, excavations here began only 70 years ago.
Ancient Jerash is a magnificent example of Roman urban planning, examples of which could be found throughout the Middle East. The modern city is located east of the ancient ruins, just outside the wall of old Jerash. At the southern gate of the city there is an information center where you can get the necessary information, guides and maps (tel.: (02) 635-12-72; opening hours: in winter 8:00-16:00, in summer 8:00-19:00).
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How to get to Jerash
Jerash is crossed by a modern freeway that links Amman to the kingdom’s northern border and continues on to Syria. From Amman to Jerash can be reached in just 40 minutes by car, taxi or bus Alpha Daily Tours (tel.: (06) 585-51-96), which organizes half-day or full-day tours with stops in Ajlun and Umm- Qays. Departure from the Alpha terminal on the seventh ring in Amman at 9:00.
Entertainment and attractions of Jerash
The hippodrome (length 244 m, width 52 m) was built during the heyday of the city, in the middle of the 2nd – beginning of the 3rd century AD. During sports competitions and chariot races, about 15 thousand people could be accommodated here. The hippodrome complex includes ten gates (“carceres”). Nearby is Hadrian’s Arch, built to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Jerash in 129.
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The oval square (90 x 80 meters), surrounded by a wide pavement and an Ionic colonnade, was built in the 1st century. There are two altars in the center of the square. In the 7th century, a fountain was laid here, which is now a column on which a fire is lit during the Jerash festival.
At the hippodrome of Jerash, paid performances of “Roman military art and chariot racing” are arranged: 45 legionnaires demonstrating combat training; 10 gladiators fighting to the death, etc.
The street of colonnades or Cardo Maximus, stretching for 800 meters, was the main architectural axis of the city. The street has been perfectly preserved to this day, traces of chariots are still visible on the stones. Up the street is the monumental gate of the Roman temple of Dionysus, built in the second century. In the 4th century, the temple was rebuilt into a Byzantine church, and today it is conditionally called the Cathedral. Nearby is the temple of the Virgin Mary.
Nymphaeum is a well-preserved decorative fountain (191) dedicated to the nymphs. The northern amphitheater, built in 165, was used for performances, city council meetings and other events. The southern amphitheater was built during the reign of Emperor Domitian (90-92). The first level of its stage has been restored and is used today for performances. Thanks to the amazing acoustics, the voice of the orchestra standing in the center (stage) is heard in the farthest rows.
There are 18 churches left from the Byzantine era, most of which have mosaic floors. Large sections of the city wall with four gates have also been preserved.
Jerash Archaeological Museum
The museum exposition presents finds made in Jerash and its environs. The collection reflects all the archaeological epochs of the region – from the Neolithic to the Mamluk period: ceramics, glass, metal products, coins, as well as precious stones, figurines and figurines, stone and marble altars, mosaics. In the garden: marble statues and stone sarcophagi.
Opening hours: 8:00-16:00 in winter and 8:00-19:00 in summer; Fri and holidays — 10:00-15:00. The entrance is free. Tel.: (02) 635-22-67.
Events and festivals
Every year in late July – early August, a festival is held in Jerash, where local and foreign groups and popular performers perform, ballet, theater and opera performances, craft fairs are held. And all this – against the backdrop of the brightly lit ruins of the ancient city.
At the Jerash Hippodrome, Jerash Heritage puts on paid performances of “Roman Military Art and Chariot Racing”: 45 legionnaires demonstrating drill and combat training; 10 gladiators fighting to the death, as well as several Roman chariots competing in a classic seven-lap race. The show starts every day except Fridays at 11:00 and 15:00 (in winter – at 14:00). Phone: +962 2 634 2471, +962 2 634 2481.