Jordan’s Amman is an ancient city, with its origins dating back to biblical times. It has had many different rulers including the Macedonian, the Roman and the Ottoman empires and what remains today is a fusion of these remarkable civilisations. Considered one of the Middle East’s safest cities, this mountainous, historical metropolis is the perfect introduction to exploring Jordan.
To get in touch with Amman’s cultural and historical sites, visit East Amman, the Citadel and, in particular, the area known in West Amman as Jabal Amman, which has a number of ancient sites, ruins, monuments, museums and souks. In particular, the remnants of the ancient Roman Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace are striking, must-see highlights.
The Jordan Museum houses many of the city’s artefacts, including Dead Sea Scrolls and 8000-year-old statues. A visit to the impressively restored Roman Theatre, believed to date back to the second-century AD under the reign of Antoninus Pius, is a remarkable site. This ancient entertainment centre still stages shows, usually in the months of July and August. When sightseeing in these traditional areas it is advised that both men and women dress conservatively out of courtesy and according to custom.
Eat and Drink
Though the city boasts a number of international restaurants and Western food chains, traditional Ammani cuisine is Arabic, with staples including lamb, chicken, rice, chickpeas and flatbread. Chickpeas are used to make Arabic favourites such as hommus and falafel.
Shari’ Al-Rainbow (Rainbow Street) is a cobblestoned street home to the famous Falafel al-Quds, considered one of the best falafel shops in Amman. Rainbow Street is where you will also find a popular restaurant called Sufra, a city favourite specialising in Jordanian cuisine. There are also a number of shisha cafes in the area where you can smoke one of many fragrant flavours of tobacco.
Local alcoholic beverages, including Jordan’s national Petra beer and the local liqueur araq (similar to ouzo) are must-tries. Ammanis and Jordanians in general love their Arabic and Turkish coffee, particularly after meals as the cardamom in the drink aids digestion.
Where to Stay
While East Amman is the traditional sightseeing mecca of the city, it is best to stay in West Amman, the city’s modern economic hub. There are a number of accommodation options here including almost all of the capital’s luxury hotels as well as lively cafes, restaurants, nightlife and shopping areas.
An integrated public transport system is non-existent in Amman but taxis are very affordable, accessible and considered the best method of getting to and from the city’s east and west regions.
There are several Western-style malls in the city including the City Mall (the biggest mall in the city, riddled with international and luxury brands) and the popular Mecca Mall (a more affordable option). Shopping in Downtown, known as the Balad area, is a more authentic experience. Here you will be able to find some great souvenirs and trinkets from the many markets and stores as well as enjoying delicious street food. One of the most popular thoroughfares to explore in Downtown is King Talal Street.
Amman Like a Local
Amman at sunset is a magical experience, especially if you see it from the Citadel. Here you will get an impressive view of the whole city and be serenaded by sunset prayers streaming out of the city’s mosques like a symphony. Take it all in and enjoy the soothing experience after a big day of exploring.