Where The Romans Once Tread

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July 9th 2012
Published: July 12th 2012
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Roman Amphitheater in Downtown AmmanRoman Amphitheater in Downtown AmmanRoman Amphitheater in Downtown Amman

View from the Citadel (Amman, Jordan)
Laila's family graciously spent their weekend taking me into downtown Amman to see some of the most well known sights. We drove to downtown, parked on a hill with a great view of the hills, and explored some of the ancient stairs of old Amman. At the end of one particularly long set, we came out right onto the street and I was hit with the noises and smells of a bustling Middle Eastern city. We spent a while walking the streets of downtown, past jewelry shops, shawerma places, electronics stores, everything. Her parents even bought me a hatta (or keffiyeh), the traditional arab headdress! Wearing it gave her family a good laugh.

We went in a few other shops around town and had Knaffeh (a delicious arab dessert) at one of the best known knaffeh places in Amman called Habibah. Even though it had cheese, which I usually hate, I thought it tasted incredible! It had a lot of syrup too which is why I think it tasted like pancakes to me.

I found the local culture in downtown captivating and unique. No where else I have been in Amman was quite like it. Yea it was dirty, but it was a fascinating preservation of Old Amman and Middle Eastern tradition. There were still busy streets full of cars and trash on the road, but the old shops were still there and the old apartment buildings still stood strong, just more worn. We stopped at one stall downtown that was in the middle section of a fork in the road and got fruit cocktails and icees to cool off.

Our first stop was the Roman Amphitheater, preserved from Roman times when Jordan was a part of the empire. They still have some outdoor concerts, plays, and ceremonies held here from time to time but during Roman times it was used mostly for gladiator fights. The stairs were quite a climb and only Laila, her father, and I wanted to go to the top. I loved finally getting in some quad work since my spinal injury has forced me to take a break from my gym obsession for the last 4 months. The top of the amphitheater had a fantastic view of the buildings on the hill across too! Central Amman is built on 7 hills so the whole city is essentially hills on hills, which makes the countryside look gorgeous.

The climb down was a bit nerve racking since all three of us are a bit uncomfortable with heights, especially when loved ones step near an edge, but we made it down just fine when we found out that around the sides the stairs were less worn and less slippery 😊

The Roman Amphitheater, which was pretty well preserved, was also home to the Jordan Museum of Popular Traditions. We went inside to see some traditional dresses, daggers, jewelry, and mosaics - not to mention it was a great place to escape the blazing heat of Amman at 12pm. Amman's weather is not too humid but midday the sun is deadly! They had traditional clothes from a lot of different cities in P'lestine and Jordan as well. The daggers they had on display are straight out of the aladdin movies 😊 which were my favorite disney movies as a kid. Maybe that was a hint that one day I'd end up traveling here in the Middle East?

We did a little shopping after seeing the amphitheater before walking back to the car.
Laila and ILaila and ILaila and I

Roman Amphitheater
We needed to drive up the hill to the Citadel, which sat on top. Called Jabal al-Qal'a in Arabic, the Citadel is on top of a hill that has been inhabited for over 7000 years. Plaques at the site told of the history of Amman when it was once called Philadelphia, and before that Rabbath-Ammon. The Citadel had a few pillars left over, from one of the empires that once inhabited the area and an old mosque on one side. The mosque looked nothing like today's mosque's, it was from one of the older Islamic periods of rule. The Citadel had amazing views of Amman as it was located on a hill right in the center. You could also see the highest flying flag of Jordan on one hill across a large gap.

I could really feel the rich history of Amman when visiting all these ancient sights. I imagine the Romans watching in the Amphitheater seats as an epic battle was fought below. Or a king standing next to the Citadel, looking out over much emptier hills before modern day construction filled the hillside with apartment buildings.

That's without mentioning the religious significance of Jordan for the three major Abrahamic religions. I admit I haven't done enough research on the Islamic and Jewish holy sites here, mostly because I'm here to explore the roots of my own faith - Christianity. But I really should do a bit more research so I can see and understand all of Jordan's history in its entirety.

Additional photos below
Photos: 59, Displayed: 25


The Roman AmphitheaterThe Roman Amphitheater
The Roman Amphitheater

from across the street
Laila and ILaila and I
Laila and I

Roman Amphitheater
Knaffeh from HabibahKnaffeh from Habibah
Knaffeh from Habibah

A delicious Middle Eastern dessert

13th July 2012

great that youre blogging again
i miss reading your blog. and wow! now youre learning arabic. and you only have two months. thats crazy. ive been studying japanese in school for more that a year now and im really bad at it. but this is your forte so i think youd do better. international relations sounds perfect for you. having a jordanian girlfriend makes that all the more clear
13th July 2012

thanks for another comment
great to hear from you! yes im happy to be blogging again. and i'm hoping that since I'm studying arabic in an arabic speaking country, I'll be able to pick it up much quicker. good luck with japanese!
13th July 2012

thanks for another comment
great to hear from you! yes im happy to be blogging again. and i'm hoping that since I'm studying arabic in an arabic speaking country, I'll be able to pick it up much quicker. good luck with japanese!

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