Amman, the progressive capital of Jordan, is distinguished by its white-stone architecture and steeply sloping streets. One of the great benefits of holidaying in Amman is that you have access to the city's two very distinctive, separate areas; Western Amman is known for its modern art galleries and bars, while Eastern Amman is the place to go for a more traditional experience. In the bustling heart of the city you'll find a myriad of streets known as 'Downtown' -- a haven for history lovers with busy souqs, mosques and Roman ruins lending a sense of authenticity and heritage. While the city may not have as iconic a history as Damascus or Jerusalem, there's a charming ambience here with a real sense of being welcome and treated with exceptional friendliness and hospitality.
Thanks to a rapid modernisation, similar to much of Dubai, the city has many modern areas that are well worth exploring, including the coffee houses and bookshops of Rainbow Street. At the Citadel, you'll find beautiful ruins and the former Temple of Hercules, which is a historic marvel. What you can find within the walls of the city is just a taster; venture out the walls and you'll come face to face with adventure and a wide range of historic attractions. You can venture south to the Wadi Rum, the star of T.E Lawrence's adventures, or take a trip to the Dead Sea Resorts.
For a laid-back day out, try the relaxed port of Aqaba, then round of your trip with a visit to the splendid Petra, Jordan's best-loved attraction. Just 30 km from Amman is the City of Mosaics, which was known as Medeba in the Bible, featuring Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics including the diagram of the Holy Land and Holy Land Map. Alongside all the wonderful attractions and places of interest in Amman, the city hosts several world-class annual events including the Jazz Festival and the Hakaya Cultural Project.
Things to Do
As with many of the capital cities of the Middle East region, Amman is renowned for its rich and diverse heritage, which is reflected in its wide range of historical attractions. As one of the most liberal and progressive cities in the region, it is ideal for visitors from different cultures looking to learn more about the heritage of the country and its role in world history.
Come face to face with history
Some of the city's best historic attractions include the spectacular Roman amphitheatre, which was constructed by cutting into a hill during the reign of Antonius Pius during the second century. This historic marvel has been restored to its former glory, making it a breath-taking attraction that really showcases the best of Roman architecture. The theatre is used to good effect as a stage for plays during the summer months, creating one of the most memorable theatre experiences you can enjoy in the Middle East. Other historic attractions include the King Abdullah Mosque, which has a huge blue dome that dominates the city skyline and is the only mosque in Amman to openly welcome non-Muslim visitors.
Explore the beautiful surroundings
You can really make the most of your time in the area by using the city as a base for exploring the surrounding area, which is rich in heritage and natural beauty. From Amman, you can explore Wadi Rum and Petra, the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site of the lost city of Jordan. Here, you can join a tour to the Dead Sea and indulge in a salt and mud bath at the lowest point on Earth. Dead Sea salts and mud are renowned for their health benefits, including improved circulation, reduced fatigue and beauty benefits such as glowing skin.
Enjoy the nightlife
Amman has a welcoming, affable ambience by day and a sophisticated atmosphere as the night falls. At night, there's a wide selection of refined bars and restaurants to choose from, so you're guaranteed to find a nightlife venue to match your needs. As it's important to keep hydrated in the hot weather, you may want to stop off at Rumi to taste their refreshing selection of teas. Rainbow Street is a great place to venture in the evening for the young (and young at heart) as you'll find plenty of great up-and-coming restaurants and bustling coffee houses.
Amman is famous for its gold and jewellery, which are sold by weight in the city. If you're looking to splash out on an indulgent piece for someone special, head to the specialist Gold Souk for one of the city's finest collections. At Wild Jordan you can search for expertly-crafted bags, while at the Jordan Design and Trade Centre, you'll find more hand-woven goods like rugs and other textiles.
Whether you love your holiday weather hot and balmy or are keen to take a break from the hot streets of the city, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the ocean at the Royal Diving Club. There are two pools here and a well-maintained beach with a coral reef for exploring and a restaurant for post-dive cocktails and a meal.
Calendar of Events
Amman is one of the most progressive and open-minded cities of the Middle East, making it the ideal place for visitors from different world cultures to learn more about the heritage and culture of this beautiful and historic region. The city's stunning dramatic beauty and historic venues make the perfect backdrop to festivals and events throughout the year, ranging from cultural events to music festivals and sporting competitions.
- Dead Sea Ultra Marathon. the Annual Dead Sea Ultra Marathon takes place each year in April and aims to encourage health and sports participation in the Middle East region, while raising funds for important causes such as assisting neurological patients with the costs of care. Starting in Amman, participants make their way downwards to the lowest point on Earth at the Dead Sea.
- Distant Heat. Each July, the city hosts the bustling annual concert Distant Heat in Wadi Rum and Aqaba. The fun kicks off with live electronic dance music played in the spectacular historic settings of the desert of Wadi Rum and proceeds to pool parties at the Red Sea area of Aqaba.
- Jordan Festival. Each July/August the city welcomes visitors from the Middle East region and across the globe at the Jordan Festival, which sees hundreds of international artists perform in various fields including poetry, folklore performances, music and singing.
- Jazz Festival. As one of the Middle East's most progressive and liberal cities, Amman hosts modern music festivals throughout the year, with one of the most popular being the Jazz Festival held each year in April. This popular festival attracts regional and international acts and is held in the city or sometimes at the Dead Sea resorts.