Jerash Jordan: Rome Away From Rome!

Jerash is a city in Jordan, north of the capital Amman. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, it’s known for the ruins of the walled Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa just outside the modern city. These include the 2nd-century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis and the huge Forum’s oval colonnade. The Jerash Archaeological Museum displays artifacts excavated from the site. – [Source]

DSC_0317From the Amman city center we traveled north towards Jerash. The one hour travel went smoothly. We passed a single check point, but that was it! I guess the authorities were making sure everything were in order during the peak of the tourist season. I was actually enjoying the countryside views despite the fact that we were heading north and we were literally close to Syrian border. But our driver assured us that it’s fairly safe in Jordan and there’s nothing to worry about. Yup the place looked peaceful and quiet. As what I have observed Jordanians are very accommodating, friendly and helpful. Although they seldom smile but they’re good people.

Next to Petra, Jerash is the second most visited site in Jordan. There’s no doubt tourists were flocking to visit the ruins of the Greco-Roman City of Gerasa. Based on the ancient Greek inscription and other literary sources supports that Alexander the Great and his general founded the city. Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman cities of the Decapolis. I guess that explains why Jerash is a little piece of Rome away from Rome.

We explored the ruins of Jerash on our own without a tour guide, so basically we only relied on the information board found inside the site. I’m sorry I can’t explain the history and the full details about Jerash but I quoted some brief information from the internet to give a short history and background about the place. However if you’re interested to learn more, might as well Google it ’til your heart’s content.

Remains in the Greco-Roman Jerash include

Numerous Corinthium columns
Hadrian’s Arch and the circus/hippodrome
The two large temples (dedicated to Zeus and Artemis)
The nearly unique Oval Forum, which is surrounded by a fine colonnade,
The long colonnaded street or cardo
Two theaters (the Large South Theater and smaller North Theater)
Two communal baths, and a scattering of small temples
A large Nymphaeum fed by an aqueduct
An almost complete circuit of city walls
A water powered saw mill for cutting stone
Two large bridges across the nearby river.

The Arch of Hadrian

20150923_113737It was called The Arch of Hadrian because when the Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash in 129-130 AD they built the triumphal arc to celebrate his visit.

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The South Gate

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The Colonnaded Oval Forum

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Corinthium Columns and Colonnaded Cardo

DSC_0215DSC_0206DSC_0229 The place is huge. At the first glance you can tell that this city was once a bustling and thriving metropolis during the Greco-Roman times because of its rich and elaborate architecture. The road still in its original form. And the countless towering Corithium columns were lined up one after the other. The long and colonnaded cardo/street was once a busy street that houses many businesses like shops, cafes and restaurants.

DSC_0257I think it’s more or less 30 to 40 minutes walk from the Oval Forum to the North gate.

The Nymphaeum

DSC_0233The Nymphaeum was constructed in 191 AD. The fountain was originally embellished with marble facing on the lower level, painted plaster on the upper level, and topped with a half-dome roof, forming a giant niche. Water cascaded through seven carved lion’s heads into small basins on the sidewalk.

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DSC_0255Some ruins of the City walls and bridge

DSC_0245I was a little bit exhausted so we decided not to walk through the North gate instead we headed to the North theater and to the Temple of Artemis.

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North Tetrapylon

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The North Theater

DSC_0244Side view of the North Theater as seen at the Colonnaded Cardo.

DSC_0266DSC_0262Front view of the North Theater

Temple of Artemis

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The South Theater

DSC_0280DSC_0302South Theater stage. Some locals were practicing their performance number and set-up sound system for the Cultural Show.

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The Hippodrome

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Jerash became an urban center during the 3rd century BC and a member of the federation of Greek cities known as the Decapolis (“ten cities” in Greek). Jerash prospered during the 1st century BC as a result of its position on the incense and spice trade route from the Arabian Peninsula to Syria and the Mediterranean region. Jerash was a favorite city of the Roman emporer, Hadrian, and reached its zenith in AD 130, flourishing economically and socially. The city began to decline in the 3rd century, later becoming a Christian city under the rule of the Byzantine empire. The Muslims took over in AD 635, but the final blow to the city was dealt by Baldwin II of Jerusalem in AD 1112 during the Crusades. [Source]

Visiting places like this brought me back in time. I even imagined the lives of the people who settled here and how it’s like during their glory days. For me seeing beyond what your eyes can see is somehow the best story you can ever tell about your travels and the amazing experience will forever stays with you. (You know what I mean?… I hope so!)

32 thoughts on “Jerash Jordan: Rome Away From Rome!

  1. Yay! Ruins and city walls I like it Joy! The whole place was a huge open space, and endless blue skies!! But how’s the weather? It looks hot and there’s no shade in sight.

    Happy to hear that it’s safe in Jordan. I am still reconsidering visiting countries in Central Asia because of security and all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The weather was sweltering hot. You will seriously need a lot of sunblock and huge bottle of water. But it’s all worth it though.

      Security was our main concern too but when we were there, tahimik naman you won’t even feel there’s a tension between the neighboring countries. =D

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    1. Thank you Tanya! Jerash isn’t quite popular as Petra but it is actually second most visited site in Jordan next to Petra. Mostly Filipino tourists kasi visits Jordan for religious tours kaya seguro hindi na include sa itinerary nyo. I booked Classic Jordan tour, it’s a mix of cultural and biblical sites including the place wherein Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back to Sodom and Gomorrah. Did you see it?

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      1. Hi Joy, we didn’t tour that place. Only Amman, Petra and Mt. Nebo and then we went back to Israel. Wow, your pictures are great! I’d like to see the place one day, and also Wadi Rum daw is spectacular. 🙂

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      2. Wadi Rum is awesome! I regret I cancelled our overnight stay there. I thought it wasn’t safe because you’ll be staying in a tent like camping. Pero ang ganda ng lugar! We had 2 hours tour lang, nabitin ako. I wanted to stay kaso wala na kaming reservation. So yun hopefully makabalik kami. If babalik ka ng Jordan make sure mag overnight kayo dun. 🙂

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  2. Fantastic! The writer seems to have captured the very essence of traveling. Photos are lively, full of life! I feel like I’m travelling with the writer. More blogs to read! Impressive.

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  3. Been there! It’s amazing and there were very few tourists due to the situation in the Middle East. I just loved it, it’s so much better preserved thanany other Ancient Roman city in Europe (maybe with the exception of Pompeii – but Pompeii was way smaller). All those columns and magnificent buildings remind us of what great things humanity can achieve, but their ruins also show of what evil we are capable of. Unbelievably magical and unique place, and surprisingly virtually unknown to the western travelers.

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    1. Hi Tom… Same thing my husband and I felt when we arrived there. This place reminded us so much of Rome, hence my title for this article. Hopefully more travelers from the west would discover this place and write about it. 🙂

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  4. This place looks like a paradise for photography and architecture. But it is very disheartening to see such marvels in runes. Hope to get there someday to explore the architecture.

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    1. You are definitely right on that. It is indeed a paradise for lovers of architecture (like my husband) and shutterbugs (like me). I’ll also be hoping you do get a chance to visit this place in the future.

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  5. Oh my!!! The moment I saw the first pic, I did think it was Rome!!! For its UNESCO heritage site, I really want to visit Petra in Jordan, but never thought of other places there. Jerash looks gorgeous as well! Jerash is just incredible!!! There is a Hadrian Wall in England which is also a Ancient Roman site! I wonder what it means!

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    1. Well Emperor Hadrian from what I know is one of the more popular Roman emperors. It is no wonder that England’s Hadrian’s Wall and Arch of Hadrian here in Jerash were both named after him. Thanks for dropping by and I hope that you do get a chance to see the wonders of Jordan.

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  6. I have several friends who have visited and even lived in Jordan, but I never heard of Jerash before.. just Petra. This place looks amazing though! And how could would it be to see a concert performed among the ruins?? I have heard the same that Jordan is quite safe, but I still think you are very brave for going near to the Syrian border area!

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    1. It was relatively quiet when we got there. My husband told me that most of the fighting in Syria is north of Damascus. Since Jerash is south of Damascus, it would be relatively safe. This has been the common misconception in the west. I’m hoping that more and more westerners would do a little bit more research and I’m quite sure that most would end up visiting Jerash. Maybe you could go with your friends and check out this place. I promise you that you won’t regret it one bit.

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  7. That blue sky and those yellow stones… that’s just a picture perfect setting! Thanks a s well for all the information about those Greco-Roman ruins… I don’t know very much about Herash, so it’s always great to read a post with those kind of information.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. Its always a pleasure for me to disseminate relevant information about places of interest to fellow travelers. Hopefully I’ve convinced you to check out this place in the future.

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  8. Jordan is in my list for so many years. It’s great to see how this country, out of no where, has picked up in the charts of travellers. I’ll be there soon!

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  9. I like the title “Rome Away from Rome”! It’s always so impressive to see Roman ruins in the Middle East. I was blown away by the ones I saw in Morocco, but these are just as beautiful. I love the columns on the Temple of Artemis. Glad to know that you felt safe in Jordan too.

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  10. I completely agree with your term – Rome away from Rome. It is quite like that city. And I know I would totally dig it for this very reason. Ruins and stories everywhere. Loved your write up and the pics

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