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]
From 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
It 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.
The South Gate
The Colonnaded Oval Forum
Corinthium Columns and Colonnaded Cardo
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.
I think it’s more or less 30 to 40 minutes walk from the Oval Forum to the North gate.
The 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.
Some ruins of the City walls and bridge
I 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.
The North Theater
Side view of the North Theater as seen at the Colonnaded Cardo.
Front view of the North Theater
Temple of Artemis
The South Theater
South Theater stage. Some locals were practicing their performance number and set-up sound system for the Cultural Show.
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!)