Jordan: Step into an ancient world

Ruins of ancient civilisations, set against backgrounds of brilliant reds, awaken my inner explorer. Travelling further I discover a sea of brilliant turquoise lapping the shore of white sandy beaches. The dynamic, changing landscape draws me in, challenging me to unlock the history of this remarkable place.

A country with a long tradition of welcoming travellers and explorers, Jordan, has been on my travelling bucket list for a long time, but was often pushed aside for the opportunity to visit other destinations. When I finally made the decision to visit Jordan in late-2016, nothing prepared me for its history and spectacular beauty.

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Hadrian’s Arch, Jerash

Our first day saw us travelling north-west to the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara, or Umm Qais as it is known today. Boasting spectacular views of Jordan, Syria and Israel, the site contained a striking array of Roman ruins which we explored at our leisure. From there we journeyed to city of Jerash, home to some of the world’s best preserved Roman architecture. Marked by the imposing Hadrian’s Arch, the site boasts a number architectural treasures, allowing us to glimpse at a time we only knew from our history books. While not as well-known as some of the other ancient sites of Jordan, Jerash is a must visit for anyone with an interest in Roman history.

The next day we journeyed south to Petra. Along the way we made a number of stops, but the two which stood out were the traveller-friendly town of Madaba, home to a well-preserved collection of Byzantine-era mosaics, and the surprisingly impressive Shobak Castle. Arriving after the castle had closed for the day, the gracious tour guide took the time to show us around the Crusader fortress at sunset. With the last rays of the sun coating the castle in brilliant yellows, the tour was a reminder of the depth of history the country contained.

Awakening on day three we were treated to a brilliant sunrise over Petra before we made our journey to the historic site. Founded by the Nabataeans more than 2,000 years ago, Petra was an important junction for trade routes connecting China, Indian and southern Arabia, with Egypt, Greece and Rome. With one day to see as much as we could of the city, we started early to make the most of the sunlight as it casts its rays over the site, changing the colour of the rock from orange to pink throughout the day.

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The Treasury, Petra

The settlement is extraordinary, with the reveal of the Treasury upon entry a personal highlight. With so much to take in, it is recommended you arrive at the site as early as it does take time to walk to the more popular sites, including the Monastery. If you are planning to visit Petra, make sure you take your walking shoes. You’ll be so distracted of the sights around you, you’ll quickly lose track of the amount of walking you do.

Convinced we had already seen the most spectacular sites in Jordan, our next destination was Wadi Rum. Described by T E Lawrence as “vast, echoing and godlike”, we were not disappointed by the heritage site’s sandstone cliffs, sprawling landscapes and unique history. Taking a tour of Wadi Rum, we were treated to Bedouin hospitality before watching the sunset over the rocks. While the December weather saw the site become very cold, very quickly, the brilliant reds of Wadi Rum, combined with the last of the sun’s rays, made for a picture perfect sunset unlike any I had seen before.

Wadi Rum Sunset
Sunset overlooking Wadi Rum

After a lot of exploration and travelling, our last days in Jordan were spent relaxing at the Dead Sea and taking in the sights at the picturesque Red Sea in the sea side town of Aqaba. An ideal way to unwind and refresh before returning to Amman to make the journey home.

I travelled to Jordan unsure of what to expect and found myself in awe of the country’s historic sites and picturesque scenery. Sadly, in recent years, Jordan has seen a decline in visitor numbers. This is, in part, thanks to events in the region and calling Syria, Israel and Iraq amongst its neighbours. As a result, travellers are missing out on a country like no other. With its friendly locals, lively towns and brilliant sights, Jordan is a safe haven in a region blighted by conflict. A must see for anyone seeking their next great adventure, now is the perfect time to take in all the experiences this remarkable country has to offer.

More information

We toured Jordan with SAS Travel. You can find out more about the Jordan tours they have on offer here.

If you are looking for more information on what to see and do in Jordan, you can visit the Jordan Tourism Board at visitjordan.com