Got History? Amman Does!

Coming to Amman for the first time, I was curious as to what the city would feel like.  Surely, there would be some good restaurants (all cities have them!) and some nationally important buildings or monuments worth visiting (and photographing!).  I have been to Cairo, close to Amman in many ways beyond distance, and Istanbul which, though not Arab, shared the Ottoman Empire with Amman and other places in the Middle East.  But I figured with Amman being smaller and being in a smaller country would likely feel different.  It was.  Starting with its scale but also in the pace it seemed to have.  It felt more livable, relaxed and manageable.

A Wealth of History in Amman

In terms of scale, while it does not have structures that compare with the Hagia Sophia or the Pyramids of Giza (how many places do??), the depth of the historical “record” it has on evidence took me by surprise.  And I like this type of surprises!

I am a history buff but I am more informed about some places than others.  About Jordan, I knew how the country came out of colonial rule in the 20th century, I knew Petra and its history, and had some notion of the Arab Revolution in which Lawrence of Arabia had a hand (thanks Hollywood).  Amman surprised me by the incredible record of civilizations past that it holds and here is some of what I discovered in my visit to the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom.  One of those things is that it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places town in the world!

The Citadel of Amman

The Citadel is a great example of the amazing historical record available for the visitor to Jordan.  The Citadel not only has amazing ruins to visit and a great small museum but it offers amazing views of the city that surrounds it, all hills!

Amman city view flagpole flag Jordan hills photo Canon EOS Rebel

A city of hills with the massive Raghadan flagpole in the background (3rd tallest free-standing in the world)

As the visitor is reminded by the signage, there has been settlements in current day Amman since thousands of years before Christ past the Bronze and Iron Ages through Persian, Greek, Nabatean, Roman and Byzantine periods.  It also has navigated through various names.  Rammath-Ammon is one of the oldest but did you know the city was also named Philadelphia in ancient times?  Yep, it was.

Among the ruins I explored at The Citadel were the ruins of a Byzantine Church and the Temple of Hercules.

Citadel Amman Jordan Roman ruins columns Canon EOS Rebel

Some of the Roman ruins in The Citadel

temple hercules roman statue, big hand, citadel amman jordan canon eos rebel

The Temple of Hercules as backdrop to the hand of a colossal Roman statue that once stood at The Citadel

Roman Colossus Statue Hand at the citadel in amman jordan canon eos rebel

Close-up of the big ole hand!

A key site at The Citadel is the Umayyad Governor’s Palace from the 8th century built on old Roman ruins.  The Umayyad was a dynasty that ruled Amman for a few centuries but who ruled, at its peak, a vast caliphate from modern-day Pakistan to Spain.  Who knew, right?  Not covered in my ancient history class in high school…

Umayyad Palace Citadel amman jordan dome ruin Canon EOS Rebel

Umayyad Palace

Dome blue sky Umayyad Governor Palace citadel amman jordan Canon EOS Rebel

Detail of the palace’s dome

Umayyad governor palace amman jordan flag architecture detail Canon EOS Rebel

Detail of the exterior of the Umayyad Palace

"Architectural detail" amman jordan umayyad governor palace citadel Canon EOS Rebe,

Detail of the interior of the central room of the palace

"Architectural detail" Umayyad Palace in the Citadel architecture amman jordan Canon EOS Rebel

Detail of the central room at the Umayyad Palace at The Citadel in Amman, Jordan

Ruins Umayyad Mosque palace The Citadel Amman, Jordan Canon EOS Rebel

Ruins from the old Umayyad Mosque by the palace

Artifacts from The Citadel's archeology museum Amman Jordan Canon EOS Rebel

Artifacts from The Citadel’s archeology museum

Archeology museum artifacts Canon EOS Rebel

Artifacts from The Citadel’s archeology museum

The Roman Theater

Amman also has a Roman Theater built in the mid 2nd century A.D. by Emperor Antonius Pius.  It is in the middle of Amman and is a popular place for local young adults to go visit, if my time there was any indication!  Some in my group struck good conversations with locals whilst some of us climbed all over taking pictures!

The Roman Theater in Amman, Jordan viewed from The Citadel Canon EOS Rebel

The Roman Theater viewed from The Citadel

The Roman Theater in Amman, Jordan

Approaching the entrance to the Roman Theater

The Roman Theater in Amman, Jordan Canon EOS Rebel ruins

Detail of the front of the theater’s stage

Roman Theater Amman Jordan modern spectator ruins Canon EOS Rebel

Is that a Roman spectator still hanging around??

As you can see, Amman has some incredible testimonials to ancient history in The Citadel and the Roman Theater.  Petra, Jerash and Mardaba are example of other great places to witness history and will be the topic of a future post – stay tuned!!



  1. Wow – love these photos! What a wonderful tour of Amman. This has not been on my list of places to go but after seeing these, it just might be. I really enjoyed your reflections and comparisons with other cities too. Thanks.

    • @Mira, it certainly is not well-known here in the U.S. and I am surprised that is the case having seen now what it offers!

  2. Andreas says:

    thank you for the pictures. It is as if we had been there with you…only with a dash of envy thrown in. Loved the Roman Theater.

  3. I am so excited when I can go and see ruins! These photos make me VERY sure that Jordan is on my list to visit. I see tons of photos of Petra, but not so much of Amman. Thank you for your photos and also the brief glimpse into its rich history!
    Heather recently posted..What do a Crow, Cocktails, and a Dark Alley Have in Common?My Profile

    • @Heather, exactly! I only had seen Petra before on a day trip so never really knew all that Jordan had to offer. I do highly recommend it – thanks for the comment!

  4. Wow this is absolutely amazing! You just inspired me to put another country on my to do list for Asia. Now I have to convince my boyfriend… hehe. It’s so great that you’re interested in the history, also. Beautiful pictures!
    Beth recently posted..surviving the craziesMy Profile

  5. I have to say.. I’d most looking forward to visiting this place for the history. Hopefully sooner rather than later!
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Recovering from our first TBEXMy Profile

  6. The expanse of the Roman empire is truly amazing. To think I have visited ruins in southern France and the same civilization stretched all the way to Jordan. Love the first picture with the city and the flagpole.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..The Toronto Flipkey house on Bleecker StreetMy Profile

  7. such a wonderful trip, raul! hope i can go there one day! and its always about Petra, so pleased you are showing us more!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My hOtel: Castillo Hotel Son Vida, Mallorca, Spain @starwoodbuzz @castillohotelMy Profile

  8. Thanks for the history Raul….I have been dying to get to Jordan for a few years now…you have piqued my interest to another level…I find history so much more exciting and real when you are walking through it.
    Anita Mac recently posted..Running the Rochester Color RunMy Profile

  9. I’m so upset – I have a friend that lived in Amman for two years and I NEVER went to visit! Really wish I had, especially after reading this post. Love the history and the ruins. The photo of Temple of Hercules with the Roman statue hand in the foreground is spectacular!
    Francesca recently posted..Thoughts from a #TBEX first-timerMy Profile

    • @Francesca – big bummer! I love to visit other countries when I know people – love the insights a “local” has on things to do, etc.!

  10. Fantastic photos Raul – love the first pic with all the windows, quite mesmerising!
    Fiona recently posted..Secret Beaches of the AlgarveMy Profile

  11. The Roman Theater looks incredible! That is great that it is a tourist destination and a spot for some locals- helps give us travelers a local’s viewpoint! It looks like a lot of stairs on the way up to the top…
    lola dimarco recently takes a village…My Profile

  12. Your photos are the next best thing to being there. I really enjoyed all the ancient Greek and Roman ruins. I miss Jordan and you!
    Leah Travels recently posted..Cruising Circle City: Exploring Indy’s Cultural TrailMy Profile

  13. Incredible photos Raul. Your photography is always so amazing, you should teach me a class:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Sailing to St. John on the Champagne CatMy Profile

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