Amman – a unique blend of antique and novel

Amman - Jordan

Fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley .. one of the easiest cities in which to enjoy the Middle East experience

Amman is the capital and largest city of Jordan, located in the northwestern part of the country. It holds significant importance as the political, cultural, and economic center of Jordan. The city’s history dates back thousands of years, and it has witnessed the rise and fall of various civilizations, including the Ammonites, Romans, Byzantines, and Islamic Caliphates.

Today, Amman is known for its modernity and cosmopolitan atmosphere, juxtaposed with historical sites and remnants of its past. It serves as the seat of the Jordanian government and is home to numerous government institutions, embassies, and businesses. Amman’s strategic location in the heart of the Middle East has made it a hub for regional trade and diplomacy.

Visitors to Amman can explore its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant culinary scene. The city also serves as a gateway to Jordan’s many archaeological wonders, including Petra and the Dead Sea, making it a vital entry point for tourists exploring the country. Amman’s significance as Jordan’s capital makes it a dynamic and intriguing destination for travelers and a key player in the region’s political and economic landscape.

Historical Overview

Amman’s history is a rich tapestry that stretches back thousands of years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Its story is marked by a series of historical milestones and significant periods:

1. Ancient Origins:
Amman’s origins can be traced back to the Neolithic period (around 6500 BC), when it was initially settled by early civilizations. The city’s strategic location on several ancient trade routes contributed to its early growth.

2. Ammonite Kingdom:
In antiquity, Amman was known as “Rabbath Ammon” and was the capital of the Ammonite Kingdom. It was later renamed “Philadelphia” during the Hellenistic period under the rule of the Ptolemies and Seleucids. During this time, it was adorned with impressive Greco-Roman architecture, some of which can still be seen today.

3. Roman Rule:
Amman thrived under Roman rule, and it became an important regional city known as Philadelphia. The Roman Theater, an iconic historical site in Amman, was built during this period, showcasing the city’s architectural prowess.

4. Byzantine Era:
The city continued to prosper under Byzantine rule. Several churches and religious sites were constructed, reflecting the growing influence of Christianity in the region.

5. Islamic Conquest:
In the 7th century AD, Islamic forces led by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab captured Amman, marking the city’s transition to an Islamic center. It was during this time that the city’s name reverted to its ancient Ammonite name, “Ammon.”

Ancient Roman Columns - Amman Citadel Jordan

6. Crusader and Ottoman Periods:
Amman saw various rulers, including the Crusaders and the Ottomans. During the Ottoman rule, the city was part of the province of Syria and played a role in the administrative and economic affairs of the Ottoman Empire.

7. 20th Century and Modernization:
In the 20th century, Amman underwent significant modernization and expansion. It became the capital of Transjordan (later Jordan) under the leadership of King Abdullah I. This marked the beginning of its transformation into the vibrant and cosmopolitan city it is today.

8. Contemporary Amman:
Present-day Amman is a bustling metropolis, with a population that exceeds four million people. It serves as the capital of Jordan and houses numerous government institutions, embassies, and businesses. The city’s historical sites, such as the Amman Citadel and Roman Theater, coexist with modern developments, creating a unique blend of old and new.

Amman’s history is a testament to its resilience and adaptability, having survived numerous conquests and changes in leadership. Visitors to the city can explore this rich history by visiting its archaeological sites, museums, and historical landmarks, gaining a deeper appreciation for its enduring cultural heritage.

Cultural Heritage

Amman, boasts a captivating and diverse cultural heritage that reflects the nation’s rich history and contemporary vibrancy. The city is a treasure trove for those interested in exploring its museums, art galleries, and cultural festivals, each offering unique insights into Jordan’s past and present.


Founded by the Department of Antiquities in 1975, housed in the Western lateral hall of the Roman Theatre (from the entrance to the right), the museum exhibits costumes and items of daily life, weapons, and musical instruments from the 19th and early 20th centuries, belonging to the culture of the desert , villages and towns.

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Located in the Amman Citadel of Amman, Jordan. Built in 1951, it presents artifacts from archaeological sites in Jordan, dating from prehistoric times to the 15th century.
The place was chosen in order to have the actual ruins of the Roman, Byzantine and Arab Citadel part of it.

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Was established in 1971. Since then, it has endeavored to make Jordanian culture accessible to all who visit through its beautiful displays of intricately designed cultural items. It has five different galleries containing preserved pottery, costumes, mosaics, jewelry and other artifacts from daily living. it has lots to offer those looking to find out more.

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Top Attractions in Amman

The capital city of Jordan, is a vibrant and historical destination that offers a fascinating blend of ancient and modern attractions. One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Amman Citadel, perched on a hilltop and featuring ancient ruins dating back thousands of years. Visitors can explore the well-preserved Roman Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace while enjoying panoramic views of the city.

The Roman Theater is another must-visit attraction in Amman. This ancient amphitheater, built during the 2nd century, could seat up to 6,000 spectators and is still used for cultural events and performances today. Its impressive architecture and rich history make it a captivating site for tourists interested in the city’s past.

Amman also boasts a thriving culinary scene and bustling markets. A visit to the lively Rainbow Street offers a taste of the city’s vibrant culture, with its array of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Souk Jara, a seasonal market, is a delightful place to shop for traditional handicrafts, souvenirs, and sample delicious Jordanian street food. Whether you’re exploring ancient history, enjoying modern cuisine, or soaking in the local culture, Amman has a diverse range of attractions to offer travelers from around the world.

check out these top attractions in Amman 

Citadel of Amman

A good place to begin a tour of the archaeological sites of the city. It is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon and excavations there have revealed numerous Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic remains. Located on a hill, it not only gives visitors a perspective of the city’s incredible history but also provides stunning views of the entire area.

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The theatre was built in the period 138-161 CE, which dates back to the reign of Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. The sole centerpiece of the city, the magnificent masterpiece was designed to be northerly-oriented, to keep the sun off its spectators, and could seat up to 6,000 people on its steep stairs.

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The main public fountain of old Philadelphia, as Amman was named in Hellenistic and Roman times, dates back to the end of the 2nd century AD.
It is only a short stroll away from the Roman Theater and Odeon.
Nymphaea were built over caves with running water, which were believed to be sacred to mythological nymphs.

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Must know

The currency of Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar. The value of the dinar is effectively fixed at the rate of .71 JD to 1 USD, Credit cards are widely used in Jordan.

Service charges that have been included on your bill go to the restaurant, not the waiter. Be sure to tip the servers 10% in addition by handing it to them directly.

Dress respectfully with modesty in mind. This means opting for shorts or skirts that touch the knee, high necklines and keeping shoulders covered.

The easiest way to get around in Jordan is to use the plentiful taxis. Uber and Kareem are applications that you can use in Amman and you can depend on them.

Arabic is the official language, English is widely used as second language.

You didn’t visit Jordan if you didn’t have “Fool” and “Falfal”, a traditional Jordanian breakfast dish.

You didn’t visit Jordan if you didn’t have “Mansaf”, the Jordanian traditional meat dish.

Must Do

Explore the ancient Nabatean city carved into rose-red cliffs, Petra! Jordan’s most famous archaeological site.

Float effortlessly in the hypersaline waters of the Dead Sea, known for its therapeutic properties.

Discover Wadi Rum and explore the stunning desert landscapes of Wadi Rum by taking a jeep tour or a camel trek. Spend a night under the starry desert sky in a Bedouin camp for an unforgettable experience.

Hike in Dana Biosphere Reserve: Enjoy the breathtaking views and wildlife in Jordan’s largest nature reserve.

Go Scuba Diving in the Red Sea and explore the vibrant coral reefs and marine life in the Red Sea.

Tour Amman: Explore the capital city’s historical sites, including the Amman Citadel and the Roman Theater.

Discover the remarkably well-preserved Roman ruins in Jerash, known as the “Pompeii of the East.”

Relax in the natural hot springs near the Dead Sea at Ma’in Hot Springs.

Experience the Desert Castles, the Umayyad desert castles in eastern Jordan, including Qasr Amra and Qasr Kharana.

Camp in the Mujib Biosphere Reserve: Hike and explore the Siq Trail or the Ibex Trail in this beautiful nature reserve


Al Husseini Mosque

The oldest mosque in Amman, has been the nexus of the capital’s downtown area and an important gathering place for people of all walks of life.

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King Hussein Mosque

built in 2005 in the reign of King Abdullah II in West Amman- Dabouq area, specifically in Al Hussein Public Parks at King Abdullah II Street near King Hussein Medical Center.

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The King Abdullah Mosque commemorates King Abdullah I, founder of the dynasty that rules Jordan to this day and the first King of Jordan.

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jordanian cuisine

Jordan is located in the heart of the Levant, and considered the cradle of many civilizations. It is also surrounded by many Arab countries, which effected the Jordanian cuisine and mixed flavors from different regions to give it a unique distinction from others. ‏ The cuisine offers hummus, Baba Ghanoush and fried kibbeh, influenced by the Syrian culture.

It also serves Foul Medamis and falafel, influenced by the Egyptian culture. The Mahashi dish is a dish that is close to the Iraqi dolma. Also, the chicken Musakhan is a dish that Jordanians well made ancient Palestinian origins, while the kabsa is a dish inspired by the Saudi heritage. Mansaf remains the imprint that distinguishes Jordanian cuisine from others, as it is a mixture of the flavors of the Jordanian heritage, where the people of the desert (Bedwen) who grazing livestock are famous for making yogurt, margarine and butter from sheep’s milk. From here came the Mansaf, which consists of sheep meat cooked with yogurt , and next to it rice cooked with margarine with shrak bread, which is hand made and baked on Saj.

Cuisine that truly exemplify the term ‘melting pot’ as definitively as Middle-Eastern fare

Beyond hummus:



Mutabbal and Baba Ghanuj


Hummus with the Tahini


ful medames recipe

Ful medames

fattoush salad recipe


Recent excavations have uncovered homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age with many references to it in the Bible. Amman was known in the Old Testament as Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites around 1200 BC, it was also referred to as “the City of Waters”. In Greco-Roman times in the 3rd century BC, the City was renamed Philadelphia (Greek for “The Brotherhood Love”) after the Ptolemaic ruler Philadelphus (283-246 BC).

The City later came under Seleucid as well as Nabataean rule until the Roman General Pompey annexed Syria and made Philadelphia “Amman” part of the Decapolis League – a loose alliance of ten free city-states, bound by powerful commercial, political, and cultural interests under overall allegiance to Rome. Under the influence of the Roman culture, Philadelphia was reconstructed in typically grand Roman style with colonnaded streets, baths, an Amphitheater, and impressive public buildings.

During the Byzantine period, Philadelphia Amman” was the seat of a Christian Bishop, and therefore several churches were built. The city declined somewhat until the year 635 AD. As Islam spread northwards from the Arabian Peninsula, the land became part of its domain. Its original Semitic name Ammon or Amman was returned to it.

With various shifts in political power over the following centuries, Amman’s fortunes declined. During the Crusades and under the Mameluks of Egypt, Amman’s importance was overtaken by the rise of Karak in the south. By 1321 AD, it was reported that Amman was “a very ancient town and was ruined before the days of Islam” there are great ruins here and the river al-Zarqa flows through them.”

Amman - Jordan -Streets and facades
Amman - Jordan tours

Under the Ottoman Empire, Amman remained a small backwater with As-Salt being the main town of the area. By 1806, the city was reported to be uninhabited except for the Bedouins.
The departure of the Ottomans from the region coincided with the exodus of a large numbers of Circassian and other persecuted Muslims from the Caucasus. They found refuge in the area and established a settlement on the east bank of the Jordan River. Although they were mostly farmers, among these early settlers there were also gold and silversmiths and other craftsmen, and it wasn’t long before they built rough roads linking their settlement to Amman. Commerce, once again, began to flourish.

During the last ten years, the city has experienced an economic, cultural and urban boom. The large growth in population has significantly increased the need for new accommodation, and new districts of the city were established at a quick pace. This strained Jordan’s scarce water supply and exposed Amman to the dangers of quick expansion without careful municipal planning. Amman is the site of major mega projects such as the Abdali Urban Regeneration Project and the Jordan Gate Towers. The city contains several high-end hotel franchises including the Four Seasons Hotel Amman, Sheraton Hotel Amman, Fairmont Amman, St. Regis Hotel Amman, Le Royal Hotel and others.

in Amman, the downtown area is much older and more traditional with smaller businesses producing and selling everything from fabulous jewelry to everyday household items.

The people of Amman are multi-cultural, multi-denominational, well-educated and extremely hospitable. They welcome visitors and take pride in showing them around their fascinating and vibrant city.

Foreigners, Tourists

Jordan Museum. Art Destination Jordan, Amman

Jordan Museum is located in the dynamic new downtown area of Ras al-‘Ayn. Presenting the history and cultural heritage of Jordan in a series of beautifully designed galleries, The Jordan Museum serves as a comprehensive national centre for learning and knowledge that reflects Jordan’s history and culture, and presents in an engaging yet educational way the Kingdom’s historic, antique and heritage property as part of the ongoing story of Jordan’s past, present, and future.


Amman is considered one of the most liberal and westernized cities in the Arab world. The city has become one of the most popular destinations for Western expatriates and college students who seek to live, study, or work in the Middle East or the Arab world in general.

The city’s culinary scene has changed from its shawerma stands and falafel joints to embrace many popular western restaurants and fast-food outlets such as Asian fusion restaurants, French bistros and Italian trattorias. The city has become famous for its fine dining scene among Western expatriates and Persian Gulf tourists.

Souk Jara is one of the most famous outdoor markets managed by the Jabal Amman Residents Association (JARA)

Large shopping malls were built during the 2000s in Amman, including the Mecca Mall, Abdoun Mall, City Mall, Al-Baraka Mall, Taj Mall, Zara Shopping Center, Avenue Mall, and Abdali Mall in Al Abdali. Wakalat Street (“Agencies Street”) is Amman’s first pedestrian-only street and carries a lot of name-label clothes. The Sweifieh area is considered to be the main shopping district of Amman.


Amman at night
Amman nightlife - culture of Amman

With its rich history and repertoire of cafés usually taking the limelight, Amman might not immediately strike travelers as a top destination for nightlife. However, since the turn of the century, the local culture and the influence of globalization have combined to develop several distinct scenes.

Several of those renowned cafés now serve alcohol into the late hours of the night (or morning, rather), to the tune of international bands and trendy DJs. Snazzy rooftop bars offer views and ambiance to rival any, and the nightclub scene is alive and well thanks to young Jordanians’ affinity for electronic music. There is something and somewhere in Amman for every type of reveler, but one has to know where to look — that’s where we come in.

Nightclubs, music bars and shisha lounges are present across Amman, changing the city’s old image as the conservative capital of the kingdom. This burgeoning new nightlife scene is shaped by Jordan’s young population. In addition to the wide range of drinking and dancing venues on the social circuit of the city’s affluent crowd, Amman hosts cultural entertainment events, including the annual Amman Summer Festival. Souk Jara is a Jordanian weekly flea market event that occurs every Friday throughout the summer. 

Sweifieh is considered to be the unofficial red-light district of Amman as it holds most of the city’s nightclubs, bars. Jabal Amman and Jabal al-Weibdeh are home to many pubs and bars as well, making the area popular among bar hoppers.

Alcohol is widely available in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and supermarkets. There are numerous nightclubs and bars across the city, especially in West Amman. As of 2011, there were 77 registered nightclubs in Jordan (excluding bars and pubs), overwhelmingly located in the capital city. In 2009, there were 222 registered liquor stores in Amman.