Experience History: Amman Citadel

Jordan has more amazing historical sites than most people realize. This historic fortress, the Amman Citadel, is located on top of Jabal al-Qal’a, the highest of seven hills on which the city was built (jabal means ‘mountain’, qal’a ‘castle’).

 

Travel through time…

 

The citadel boasts a diverse range of previous inhabitants: Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as Umayyad and Ayyubid dynasties. Of course, this is a paradise for everyone else who loves history. The first signs of human occupation that archaeologists found date back to the Middle Bronze Age (1650-1550 BC). At that time, most likely either a fortress, or an agora (a public space for arts, sports and politics) occupied the hill. Today’s visitors can trace the great ancient civilizations through the remnants of a Roman Hercules Temple, a Byzantine church, a spectacular Umayyad palace, and many other ruins and fragments. They can also visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum. In the museum many excavated artifacts are preserved, including both every day items, and the finer things of life such as jewels and statues.

 

 

“I’m not interested in History…” – Here is why you should still visit:

 

You may say, “Thanks for all the information, but historical sights are not really my cup of tea. Why should I visit?” – We have a few more reasons to convince you…

 

1. The Location

 

The citadel is the perfect place to take a moment of rest. This is in particular from the busy and sometimes even stressful atmosphere in downtown. Since the site is located only a few minutes walking distance from Roman theater and Husseini Mosque (to be honest though, that’s downhill), you can fit a visit easily into your schedule. The way from downtown to the citadel is mostly a steep uphill. We therefore recommend to take a taxi (should cost less than 1 JD), or plan a few extra minutes of walking.

 

2. The View

 

From the citadel’s vantage point, situated atop the highest hill in Amman, you can see far out in every direction across the beautiful city. As you look west, the tallest freestanding flag in the world flies proudly in the wind. At the foot of the hill the amphitheater and downtown Amman buzz with life. And all throughout the year you can see flocks of domesticated doves circle over the city, that are joined by numerous kites during winter and spring time. It is a strange and fascinating feeling to stand in the ancient site that has been occupied by so many cultures, all while observing the modern city of today.

 

3. The Atmosphere

 

Like the many locals coming to the Citadel, you can take time to relax, have a chat with friends and let you gaze wander over the sea of houses. Due to the variety of people present, you oftentimes find yourself enveloped by an atmosphere that is as diverse and multicultural as the traces of history covering the place.

 

Practically speaking, there are WC facilities on the mountain and a nice little market where you can get ice cream, waters, snacks, and coffee. The site closes around sunset – so make sure to be there early enough, so you can lean back to enjoy Amman in the glow of the golden hour (or any other hour of the day).