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Our 10-days tour will take you around Jordan – a country with a long history, a land that began to be inhabited back in the 4th millennium BC. The country is full of historical and natural attractions from different eras.
We explore Amman, the capital of the country, the former capital of the Ammonite Kingdom in prehistoric times, called Rabat Ammon and which later became one of the ten cities of the Decapolis – the Greco-Roman city of Philadelphia.
In the 7-8 centuries AD, about 30 palaces were built in the desert lands east of Amman, 3 of the best preserved of which we will visit.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Qasr Amr Palace, built in the 8th century on the initiative of Caliph Walid I, is a small hunting palace with numerous rooms and halls. The palace has a large audience hall and a Roman-style bath. Qasr Amr Palace is an example of medieval art, as its walls are decorated with magnificently executed frescoes. The frescoes portray Walid I himself and his entourage, friends and opponents, allegorical figures of Victory, Philosophy and Poetry, and hunting scenes. The finely preserved frescoes and mosaics in the palace, representing the painting art of the early Islamic period, are of great interest.
Qasr Kharana was built in the 8th century during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph dynasty, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the walls. The palace building consists of two floors with 60 rooms, although there is no evidence of long-term residence there.
Even though Qasr Kharana was built in accordance with the traditions of Ancient Rome, elements of Islamic architecture are clearly expressed in its details.
Qasr Al-Azrak is a medieval castle that has repeatedly participated in various showdowns during its existence. The first military fortification of black basalt stones was built here by the ancient Romans. The current castle was built about seven centuries ago, using the same very unusual black basalt. It should be noted that the current territories were under the Ottoman oppression for long 4 centuries until 1918. About a hundred years ago, during the Arab Revolution, which led to the emergence of most of the present states of the Middle East, the legendary man known as Lawrence of Arabia established his headquarters here. In this uprising, the British acted against the Ottoman Empire, actively helping the Arabs with money, ammunition, and military advisers. And one of the most remarkable characters in that war was the Englishman Thomas Edward Lawrence.
We will visit Umm Qays, located on a picturesque hill, at the foot of which warm mineral springs Al-Himma gush and from the top of which an expressive view of the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee opens. The history of Umm Qays goes back to 323 BC, when, after the death of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic dynasty from Egypt founded Gadara, which became a border barrier against the Seleucids. Gadara, under the rule of Rome, was part of the Decapolis and was first mentioned by Flavius among the cities occupied by Antiochus III the Great, king of Syria. In the old days, the city was a significant cultural center, where the elite of eastern Rome came for rest and treatment. Writers, poets, and philosophers lived here, the most famous of whom were Apsines and Philo, who modified Archimedes’ theory in mathematics.
From Umm Qays we will go to eastern Pompeii – Jerash, which never ceases to amaze with the majestic Hadrian’s gate, the Forum, Colonnade Square, the Cathedral, the Sanctuary of Zeus and many more unique structures. Each of these places has its own history and seems to radiate the breath of time. Built during the Roman Empire, Jerash holds many secrets that attract tourists from all over the world. The distinctiveness of this city is the unique combination of Eastern and Western origins: even under the influence of the Greeks and Romans for many centuries, Jerash has managed to retain its traditional Asian charm.
Madaba is a city with a rich history, which has been known since the time of the Old Testament. Many will be especially interested in visiting the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, where you can see a fascinating mosaic created even before our era.
Madaba is remembered by many tourists precisely for this truly impressive mosaic with a masterful depiction of one of the first maps of the Holy Land.
From Madaba we will go to one of the most visited places in Jordan – Mount Nebo, where, according to Deuteronomy, the Lord pointed to the Promised Land to Moses: «And Moses ascended from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the summit of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead to Dan itself»…
Since Christianity became the state religion of the Byzantine Empire, temples, memorial signs, houses for pilgrims and observation platforms have been built here. The Franciscan monastery has been protected & preserved by Franciscan monks from the time of its construction on Mount Nebo in the 13th century AD to the present day.
From the level of 817 meters above sea level, we will descend to the lowest point of the planet Earth (412 meters) – the Dead Sea. With no outlet, the Dead Sea is a “terminal lake” that evaporates huge amounts of water into dry hot air. In winter, 2 mm of water evaporate from the sea surface daily, in summer up to 16 mm, and 5 m of water per year. The salt content is extremely high – up to 33%, which is the reason for the absence of any life in it (except for some bacteria). A fish from the Jordan River sneaking into the Dead Sea dies instantly. The water of the Dead Sea is so heavy that it is impossible to drown in it. The Roman consul, the future Emperor Vespasian, had all doubts about this dispelled when a bound legionnaire thrown into the sea surfaced. According to the Bible, the present site of the Dead Sea was once a fertile and prosperous Siddim valley with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The ancient city of Petra is the most important and one of the most popular attractions in Jordan. It is the capital of the ancient Arab state – the Nabatean kingdom, which was built in the 6-5th centuries BC. Located in a deep canyon, whose width varies from 5 to 200 m, accessible only through a narrow crevice in the rock, Petra has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
All structures of Petra are carved out of rocks, the most impressive of which is Al-Khazna (Treasury). Once there was a royal burial vault, and it got its name from the legend that pirates hid their treasures here. In addition, Petra has a unique Amphitheater that can accommodate 8 thousand spectators, royal tombs, a long street surrounded by columns, a triumphal arch, the Temple of the Winged Lions, a Byzantine church, which is full of mosaics covering 70 sq. m.
Wadi Rum is considered the most majestic and mysterious desert in the world. A night under the stars, surrounded by winding canyons, is an extremely romantic adventure. Peace and serenity will not leave you during your stay in this amazing place. Today Wadi Rum is a paradise for climbers, connoisseurs of the natural beauty of wild nature, untouched civilization and ordinary romantics looking for peace and serenity. The ruins of the ancient Nabataean temple, a stunning example of the architectural style prevailing here many centuries ago, will become a natural continuation and development of the image of the desert, emphasizing the protected beauty of Wadi Rum. Historians claim that Wadi Rum was formed because of the fracture of the Earth’s crust, from giant chunks of granite and destroyed sandstone ridges. Her birth dates to 8-6 centuries BC, when she was called Wadi Iram. The fresh water sources that Wadi Rum was rich in made it a “staging post” for caravans to Syria and Palestine.
The last 2 days of your tour you will spend in the city of Aqaba, located on the coast of the fabulous Red Sea, long loved by divers, regardless of their level of training. Even an unprepared diver, armed only with a mask and a snorkel, is able to explore the underwater world and contemplate corals, giant stingrays, millions of fish of a wide variety of colors, sunken ships.
10 Days & 9 Nights
Upon your arrival at Amman airport, our representative will welcome you with a sign, after passing the customs. Then, you’ll be transferred to your hotel in Amman and spend the the rest of the day.
Today after breakfast we will start Amman sightseeing from a visit to the Ancient Citadel, located on one of the high hills. The graceful Byzantine churches and the Umayyad palace have been preserved here, and their fabulous beauty never ceases to amaze travelers. The façade of the palace is ornamented with skillful stone carvings, and the luxurious interior decoration of the spacious halls and corridors delights. We will visit Roman amphitheater, which has been so well preserved to this day that musicians and artists continue to use it for its intended purpose today. It hosts concerts and festivals as well as other cultural events. next comes Jordanian Folklore Museum, where interesting collections of national costumes, household utensils, musical instruments and handicrafts are presented. The interior of the room is designed in accordance with all the traditions of past centuries. Further, our path lies to the palaces of the desert.
In Qasr Amra, several rooms of which are lined with colorful mosaics, we will admire the beautifully preserved unique frescoes of the 8th century with zodiac signs, musicians, dancers, artisans, camels and hunting scenes.
Graffiti found at Qasr Al-Kharana indicate that it was built in the 8th century and is one of the first examples of Islamic architecture. Most likely, Qasr al-Harran was the place where the rulers of the Omayyad met with the Bedouins of the desert and agreed to support each other.
Qasr Azrak is often called the Blue Castle as it is built from basalt, which gives it its color. A dedication to the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, dated 300 AD, carved in stone, marks the beginning of the construction of a black basalt fort, whose huge stone doors still include their original rods. It was built on the path that connects Azraq with Damascus and Palmyra. In ancient times, the eastern military base of the Byzantine Empire was located here, and later it was used for the same purposes during the First World War. Inside there is a room-museum of the British spy Lawrence of Arabia, who founded a military headquarters here in 1917.
We conclude our today’s trip with the hotel of your accommodation.
On day 3, we will drive two hours to Umm Qays (biblical Gadara), a member of the famous Decapolis, a union of 10 cities founded by Alexander the Great. We will walk through the ancient city, visit the restored residence of the Turkish governor, the archaeological museum.
After admiring the amazing views from the Gadara Hills to the northern part of the Jordan Valley, Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), the Yarmouk River, the Gollan Heights and the snow-covered summit of Mount Hermon (Jebel Sheikh), we will go to the second most visited place in the country, after the ancient city Petra – Jerash. We will walk along the ancient cobbled streets lined with stones from different eras and admire the colonnades, amphitheaters, ancient temples dedicated to Zeus, Artemis, Dionysus and other inhabitants of Olympus, wide city squares, baths and fountains.
Finally, we will get back to Amman to spend the night.
On the fourth day after breakfast we will go to the Moabite city of Madaba, mentioned several times in the Bible. The 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land at the Byzantine Church of St. George in Madaba, containing the oldest preserved original cartographic images of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem, is of great interest.
Then, we will head to Mount Nebo, where we will see a memorial sign in the form of a stele, a monolithic stone circle that once served as a door to the monastery, the so-called “first sanctuary of Moses”, numerous mosaic panels and their fragments, a basilica with a chapel of the Virgin, a new baptistery, overgrown pits that once served as monastic cells, as well as an olive tree planted by Pope John Paul II. From the observation deck you can observe a part of the Holy Land: the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, etc. Here, on the stone steps, we will see Moses’ rod entwined with a copper serpent. Let us remember: “And the Lord said to Moses: Make yourself a serpent and set it up on a banner, and the one who is stung, looking at it, will live” (Num. 21: 8).
We then stop at the lowest point on Earth accessible to tourists – the Dead Sea, where you can chill on your back, use the skin-friendly mud, and float in the salty water. Dead Sea water is the second after the shallow Don Juan Lake in Antarctica in terms of sodium concentration. It is located on the territory of the Ghor tectonic lowland, which belongs to Israel, Jordan and Syria. Many small rivers flow into the reservoir, but the water from the sea does not flow anywhere. It can only evaporate, leaving behind a huge amount of minerals and 10 times more salt than in the oceans.
Finally, we will head to your Petra hotel for overnight.
On the fifth day, we will explore Petra, which has at least 4 thousand years of history. These places became part of the Edomite Kingdom even before the Exodus, as the remains of its settlement were found on one of the highest and most inaccessible mountains – Jebel Umm al-Biyar right in the center of Petra. Subsequently, these places were inhabited by the Nabataeans, an ancient Arab tribe, whose territories stretched from the Sinai Peninsula to what is now southern Syria. The enchanting city of Petra with more than eight hundred monuments is situated in a winding valley among the rocks, on the site of an ancient river. Steps carved into the rocks lead to a countless number of structures – monuments, necropolises, reservoirs, altars. Petra has always captivated prominent filmmakers and has served as cinematography for such films as “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”.
After an entertaining 2 hour tour with a local guide, we will have lunch at one of the local restaurants before heading to Wadi Rum, where we will spend the night in a Bedouin camp after a delicious dinner.
On day 6, we will explore Wadi Rum, the wild desert landscape that fascinated the British liaison officer, Lawrence of Arabia, describing it as “vast, echoing, and god-like.” Hop on our Bedouin Jeep and explore the incredible colors of sand, sky and mountains, the stunning textures of rocks, gorges and canyons, and the incredible Martian landscapes. Where on Earth can you find a better location for filming “The Martian”, “Star Wars”, “Transformers”, “Prometheus”? The interest of filmmakers in the Wadi Rum desert is not accidental – it is such a fantastically beautiful place that at some moments you doubt that you are on our planet. It can be said without exaggeration that Wadi Rum is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and everyone should definitely see it not only in the movies, but also feel its spirit in reality.
At the end of our tour, we will head to your Aqaba hotel for overnight.
On day 7, we will head to the magnificent Gulf of Aqaba, with its breathtaking diving sites, housing around 500 different fish and 158 living coral species. You will enjoy diving at two magnificent spots in the southern part of the coast. Discover more of the well preserved coral reefs and rich marine life, including parrotfish, angelfish, butterfly fish, moray eels, lionfish, and sea anemones. Swim in the crystal-clear water along the clownfish and turtles. Finally, you will spend the night at the hotel.
Today after breakfast you will have 2 more boat dives in the Red Sea – one of the best diving spots on the planet. Each coral reef here is famous for its picturesque views and unusual colorful inhabitants, sunken ships and underwater caves. Watching the life of the inhabitants against the background of underwater landscapes is not only incredibly beautiful, but very interesting and informative.
We will take you back to your hotel in Aqaba for overnight.
On day 9, after having breakfast, you have the option to relax at the beach, stroll through the buzzing Souk, or visit the Aqaba Mamluk Fort. In the afternoon, we will start our 4-hour drive to your Amman hotel.
On day 10, you will be transferred back to Amman Airport to catch your flight, according to the departure time transfer
B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner