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 the seven hills around which the city was built (jabal means ‘mountain’, qal’a ‘castle’).
The citadel boasts a diverse range of previous inhabitants, including Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as Umayyad and Ayyubid dynasties. The first signs of human occupation found by archaeologists date back to the Middle Bronze Age (1650-1550 BC). At that time, the hill top was most likely occupied with either a fortress or an agora (a public space for arts, sports and politics). Visitors can trace the great ancient civilizations through the remnants of a Roman Hercules Temple, a Byzantine church, and a spectacular Umayyad palace, as well as many other ruins and fragments. They can also visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum, where many excavated artifacts are preserved, including both every day items such as pottery, and the finer things of life such as jewels and statues.
You may say, “The history is cool, but I’m not really interested in seeing historical sites. 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 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 (well, to be honest, that’s downhill – uphill it is recommended to take a taxi that should cost less than 1 JD, or plan a few extra minutes of walking), you can fit a visit easily into your schedule.
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, and at the foot of the hill the amphitheater and downtown Amman buzz with life. All throughout the year you can see flocks of domesticated doves circle over the city, who in winter and spring time are joined by numerous kites. It is a strange and fascinating feeling to stand in the ancient site that has been occupied by so many cultures, and while you observe the modern city of today, you can still see the remnants of the area’s deep history.
3. The Atmosphere
Make sure to be there early enough before sunset after which the site closes, and enjoy the golden hour (or any other hour of the day) like the many locals coming to the Citadel – 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.