The Citadel of Amman is 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. Among the most wonderful places you can visit while in Amman, there are some places of specific interest at the Amman Citadel include:
1- The Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).
2- The Byzantine Church, believed to date from the 6th or 7th century AD. Corinthian columns mark the site.
3-The Umayyad Palace complex, dating from 720-750 AD. The great monumental gateway with its cruciform shape and four vaulted niches leads to a courtyard and colonnaded street, which runs through the complex with ruined buildings on either side.
Corinthian capitals supporting a dedicatory inscription, according to which the temple was built when Geminius Marcianos was governor of Provincia Arabia (161 -166 AD) in dedication to the co-emperors of Rome, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.
This great temple was dedicated to a supreme Roman deity. It has been attributed to Hercules due to the discovery of gigantic fragments of a marble statue. Hercules was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman (Alcemene) and was known for his supernatural physical strength. Also, Hercules is depicted on Roman coins minted in the city, which was called Philadelphia at the time.
The temple stands within an immense temenos (sacred precinct) that is surrounded by porticos. It was positioned on a large purpose-built stone podium and was meant to be seen from the lower city. It is thought that it was built on top of an earlier temple associated with the Ammonite god Milkom.
According to an inscription that was at the top of its facade, the temple of Hercules was built when Geminius Marcianos was governor of Provincia Arabia in dedication to the co-emperors of Rome, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.
Ca. 550 AD
This 6th century church has a basilicaI plan that consists of a central nave and two side aisles.
The semi-circular apse in the eastern end of the building is separated from the church by a chancel screen.
Corinthian capitals decorated with acanthus leaves were taken from the Temple of Hercules for use in the basilica, and the aisles are paved with flagstones.
Rectangular rooms complete the aisles, some of which may have been added by the Umayyads a century later. The nave has a mosaic floor, a common feature in the Byzantine period; it is now covered over for protection.
Ca. 730 AD
Located at the highest point of the Citadel, the mosque lies to the south of the Umayyad palace. It sits on a raised platform with seven rows of six columns around a central courtyard. An unusual feature is the evidence of vaulted roofs, which appear to have covered the intersecting arcades.
In the center of the qiblah wall is a concave niche (the Mihrab) within a rectangular frame which projects beyond the south wall.
Courtyard in front of the Umayyad Palace, with the domed Monumental Gateway (center) and Bath House (right)
Umayyad Monumental Gateway
Ca 730 AD
This prominent monumental gateway was the formal entrance to the Umayyad palace. Visitors would be screened here and then wait to be announced to the governor before entering his palace beyond.
Inside, the monumental hall has a crucifix plan with a square central area and four recesses extending outwards from it. The arms of the cross are barrel-vaulted at the north and south ends, and covered with semi-domes at the east and west sides. Windowsills on the upper part of the central area indicate that it was roofed, probably with a wooden dome, like the one which was constructed towards the end of the last decade of the 20th century.
Dome of the Monumental Gateway
Windowsills on the upper part of the central area indicate that the hall was roofed, probably with a wooden dome, like the one which was constructed towards the end of the last decade of the 20th century.
Ca 730 AD
The Citadel was a city with many residential units, which were mostly set aside for use by those engaged in the government. There are a considerable number of residential structures excavated at the Citadel.
Flanked by columns, the street connected the Entrance Hall to key palace areas. Access to the street would have been restricted, with gates at each end controlling entry. Side passages lead off the street to residential units.
A partly-covered drain can be seen, running diagonally near the middle of the street. This was part of the clever subterranean Umayyad water system that enabled the supply of water to the entire site.
Audience Hall and Throne Chamber
Ca. 730 AD
The open-fronted Audience Hall, or the “Iwan”, was roofed by a barrel-vault. The cruciform-shaped chamber behind it is the Throne Chamber, which was thought to be covered by a dome and its floor paved with polychrome mosaic. Three recesses contain doors that connect with side rooms, and the north arm opens on to a courtyard.
These remains provide the most extensive evidence of the Ammonite occupation at the Citadel. The building, often called the Palace of the Ammonite Kings, has substantial walls that surround a plastered courtyard.
Located on the lower terrace, southeast of the ticket office.
Ca. 730 AD
This uncovered cistern, measures 17.5 meters in diameter and its stone walls are up to 2.5 meters thick. The interior surface was covered with a waterproof layer of plaster. The sloped floor collected unwanted silt at the bottom.
Up to 1370 cubic meters of water could be collected in the cistern. It was diverted there from the roofs of surrounding buildings and from paved surfaces through channels feeding into the north and west sides of the cistern. The cistern supplied water to the baths, latrines and other areas of the settlement.
Bronze Age cave
Ca 2.250 BC
The cave houses a series of rock-cut tombs, that were modified for communal burial during the Middle Bronze Age.
This cave was cleared and re-used during the Umayyad period by stonecutters who were preparing the stones for the new buildings.