When you think of the Middle East, you don’t think that you will find Roman ruins. But Jerash has one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world besides Pompeii and Herculaneum.
You will be able to walk in the hippodrome which hosted chariot races watched by 20,000 spectators, or Hadrian’s Arch, built to commemorate the visit of the Emperor.
The site is well preserved and it’s easy to imagine the grandeur of the city that one was.
We had our accommodation in Amman and only had a day trip to Jerash, which was quite close.
So early morning, we picked up our rental (rentalscars.com) and drove north to Jerash, for about an hour.
When we first arrived in Jerash, it seemed that nothing could surprise us: modern buildings, and chaotic traffic. Nothing relieved the Roman treasure.
Only after we stepped under the “triumphal” Hadrian’s Arch we started to realize the grandeur of the place.
And our imagination started to send us in the past to the golden time of the city, when the amphitheater was waiting to be filled with people, the theater was ready for performances and the high columns still followed the main road through the city.
The place is so well preserved that is so easy to imagine how life was back then.
It is said that this area has an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years because it lies on a plain surrounded by hilly wooded areas and fertile basins.
The city’s golden age came under Roman rule, known as Gerasa (one of the ten great Roman cities of the Decapolis League).
Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world because it was hidden in the sand for centuries. It had been excavated and restored over the past 70 years.
Firstly we stepped under Hadrian’s Arch – built in 129 AD to mark Emperor Hadrian’s visit, this was intended to become the new southern gate of the city.
Once past the Arch of Hadrian, you come upon the Hippodrome, which was partially restored.
It was the smallest hippodrome in the Roman Empire. This oval structure once was the venue for chariot races and other sporting events.
You can see real chariot race twice a day (except Tuesdays and Fridays).
It is a 30 minutes performance that reproduces chariot racing and army tactics of the golden times.
The show is not included in your admission ticket to Jerash and it costs 12 JOD.
Forum or Oval Plaza was an unusually wide, asymmetrical plaza at the beginning of the Colonnaded Street. It is encircled by 160 Ionic columns. Pretty cool!
Immediately we stepped on the Cardo, a 600 m colonnaded street that runs the length of the city. It was once lined with the city’s major buildings, shops, and residences. A complex drainage system lies below the stone paving. Chariot tracks still can be seen today on the street’s stones.
Agora was the city’s main food market and Nymphaeum was an ornate public fountain that was decorated with lions heads and dedicated to the nymphs.
Temple of Artemis
It was really impressive. One of the most important temples of the ancient city.
The South Amphitheatre.
It was amazing. It was so well preserved.
It used to hold up to 3000 people.
It is even used today for occasionally concerts and musicals.
Jerash is truly an open-air museum and deserves much more attention and notoriety in the world. To be honest, although I’m passionate about travel and history until I prepaid our itinerary for Jordan and make some research, I haven’t heard of Jerash.
So, don’t skip Jerash!
How to reach:
By rented car:
Amman –Jerash (1h and 50km)
This is one of the most convenient ways to explore the entire country.
Taxi till Tarbabour bus station (around 3 JOD from the city center)
Amman- Jerash Bus for about 2 h and it cost 1 JOD.
From the bus stop in Jerash, it is only a short walk to the historic Roman ruins.
You can rent a taxi that can drive you there, wait for you and then return.
The prices of this vary depending on who you speak to and how good you negotiate.
Expect to pay about 40-50 JOD.
By joining a tour
In Amman, there are plenty of tour options for visiting Jerash.
These tours can be purchased at hotels, guesthouses, and tour operators. The tour can cost in the range of 25-70 JOD, depending on the tour company.
8:00 – 16.00 (Nov to April)
8:00 – 17.30 (April- May)
8:00 – 18:30 (June, July, August, Sep)
For foreigners, the entry fee is 10 JD (parking is free). Or, you can use your Jordan Pass for free entry.