Jerash, Ajlun Castle and Umm Qays

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Middle East » Jordan » North » Jerash
January 28th 2013
Published: January 28th 2013
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Grrrr, Bernie collected an internet password from the reception desk last night, but we haven't been able to connect to the internet. On our way to breakfast we let them know at the reception desk that we couldn't access the internet. They said they would look into it and asked us to call back at the desk on our way back from breakfast. On the way back to the room we picked up an IT guy at the reception desk and he came upstairs to check our connection. He couldn't connect our laptop either and left saying that he would ask the head of IT to come to our room. However, the head of IT hadn't arrived by the time we had agreed to meet Ahmed in the foyer so we had to leave without checking our emails or updating the blog.

This morning Ahmed drove us through pine plantations and olive groves to the ancient city of Jerash which is considered to be one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Greco- Roman cities in the world. It was certainly very atmospheric to be able to stand at the southern Arch of Hadrian and be able to see the ruins stretching all the way to the northern Arch of Hadrian. The arches were constructed outside the city gates to commemorate Hadrian's visit to Jerash.

The city was damaged extensively by an earthquake in the middle of the 8th century BC and many of the features visible today are reconstructions that provide an impression of what the city once looked like. Inside Hadrian's Arch we viewed the quadrangle, an area that was used for horse races and athletic events. Its dimensions made the hippodrome in Istanbul look small in comparison!

From the quadrangle we proceeded to the south gate and the very impressive oval forum. While many of the standing structures were levelled by the earthquake and have been reconstructed the paving is original. However, it is no longer level, but retains waves that were caused by the earthquake's passage. We walked along the colonnaded street, past the circular agora and the nymphaeum to the north gate (with the northern Arch of Hadrian behind) and the northern amphitheatre (capacity 3,000). From the amphitheatre we looped back around to the Temple of Artemis, a Byzantine church, the smaller southern amphitheatre (capacity 1,500) and the Temple of Zeus where there was a tremendous view overlooking the forum. We are enjoying an added bonus that Ahmed is a photographer so, not only is he telling us about the sites, he is recommending 'shots' that we should take.

Our next stop was Ajlun Castle which was constructed by the Crusaders to defend the land they


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