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The city of Jerash, less than an hour from Jordan’s capital Amman, is one of the best-preserved Roman cities anywhere in the world – and whose genuinely global significance is perhaps overlooked by the attention directed, quite rightly, at Petra.

Although the city of Gerasa dates back to Alexander the Great, the Romans developed the settlement significantly from its conquest in 63BC to its heyday of the 110s AD, when Hadrian governed the entire empire from the city during the winter. A key part of the trading block known as the Decapolis, Jerash’s importance is reflected in the scale and scope of the buildings.

The site today, adjacent to the modern city, sprawls in a majestic unbroken sequence across several square kilometres, from the restored Hadrian’s Arch at the southern entrance to the charming and usually deserted North Theatre at the far edge of the complex. In between lies a staggering collection of wellpreserved and partially restored remnants of Roman architecture: The Hippodrome, immediately to the right of Hadrian’s Arch, is the smallest ever discovered from Roman times, whilethe South Theatre and Temple of Zeus look down over the extraordinary Oval Plaza, also unique in the Empire.

Key Attractions:
The South Theatre: The imposing South Theatre, which could seat some 3,000 spectators, was built in 90AD using donations from the wealthiest citizens. It was a place for performance rather than combat – as the outstanding acoustics will testify. It still hosts concerts from leading Arab performers today.

The Oval Plaza and Collonaded Street: The elliptical plaza is a remarkable demonstration of Roman design and engineering. Owing to the topography, the colonnaded perimeters differ in length, drawing the eye into the main entrance to the Cardio – on whose stone flags ancient cart marks can clearly be seen.

Roman Army Chariot Experience: Visiting the Dead Sea in Jordan has the added advantage of allowing you to watch the sun slowly sliding down over the West Bank, framing the hills beyond with a blazing orange sky. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a late afternoon drink.



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