Desert Castles of Jordan, April 2012

MarHaba from Jordan in the Middle East – my latest escape from reality!  While the ancient rose city of Petra enticed me here I have been easily drawn in by the charms of this equally modern and ancient land.  I’m travelling this region for 3 weeks so I will walk you through the wonders of Jordan…

I have been on the road for a week already starting in the capital of Amman.  Once one of the great outposts of the Roman Empire the city of “Philadelphia” as it was known then, there are still the ruins of the old citadel and amphitheatre in the old city. The streets now buzz with souks and animated shopkeepers and steaming pots of mint tea & cardamom Arabic coffee beckon passers-by.  While predominantly Muslim there is a significant minority Christian population in Jordan and Christian churches have their place amongst the mosques and minarets in this country.  I still don’t think I’ll ever be able to sleep through the pre-dawn muezzin (call to prayer) that blasts from every mosque loud speaker at 4.30am!

For the first few days I had joined forces with a couple of German girls to tour some of the historic sites surrounding Amman. My head has been spinning trying to grasp the continuous thread of civilization that runs through this region.  We visited 2 other Roman provincial cities (Gadara and Jerash) in the north of Jordan – with Jerash being one of the most startlingly well preserved Roman ruins in the Middle East.  You need no imagination to picture life 2000 years ago as you walk down paved, colonnaded streets, gaze up at intricately carved facades of temples flanked by Corinthian columns and ubiquitous Roman arches.  We sat at dizzying heights in the top row of amphitheatres, our stone seats 2 millennia old but with modern entertainment playing out with perfect acoustics on the stage below us.

I have visited a number of other historic buildings (‘the desert castles of Jordan’) to the north and east of Amman that have all been typically “recycled” over the centuries – built by the Greeks, expanded by the Romans, embellished by the Byzantines, reinvented by the Muslim Umayyads, partly destroyed by invading Christian Crusaders.. and so on until the modern Arabic history of the region.

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