Tucked into the hilly northwestern corner of Jordan, Umm Qais (or ancient Gadara) commands grand views of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights from the edge of its plateau. It was here that Jesus is said to have performed the miracle of casting demons out of men and into pigs. The town has existed since the Hellenistic period, but is best known for its Roman ruins, which once sat along a prosperous trade route. Many ancient streets and buildings are still intact, as are several Ottoman-era stone houses, which remained occupied all the way until the 1980s. Grandest of all the ruins is the black basalt theater, located along the wide Decumanus Maximus that still holds its original paving stones. Visitors should also be sure to check out the small museum in what was once the home of the Ottoman governor, as well as the celebrated restaurant in the old Ottoman school. In recent years, Umm Qais has become a pioneer of community tourism in Jordan, and it’s even possible to take cooking classes, nature walks, or tours with a local beekeeper after enjoying the ancient ruins.

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Umm Qais

Tucked into the hilly northwestern corner of Jordan, Umm Qais (or ancient Gadara) commands grand views of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights from the edge of its plateau. It was here that Jesus is said to have performed the miracle of casting demons out of men and into pigs. The town has existed since the Hellenistic period, but is best known for its Roman ruins, which once sat along a prosperous trade route. Many ancient streets and buildings are still intact, as are several Ottoman-era stone houses, which remained occupied all the way until the 1980s. Grandest of all the ruins is the black basalt theater, located along the wide Decumanus Maximus that still holds its original paving stones. Visitors should also be sure to check out the small museum in what was once the home of the Ottoman governor, as well as the celebrated restaurant in the old Ottoman school. In recent years, Umm Qais has become a pioneer of community tourism in Jordan, and it’s even possible to take cooking classes, nature walks, or tours with a local beekeeper after enjoying the ancient ruins.

Umm Qais Rest House, Umm Qais

A pastoral landscape dotted with ancient Christian ruins is the setting for Umm Qais village in Northern Jordan. It’s also where you’ll find detour-worthy home-style cooking at this charming, unfussy restaurant and inn. Located within an Ottoman-era house, Umm Qais Rest House prepares meant-to-be-shared plates of hummus drizzled with olive oil, chopped salad with sweet tomatoes and fresh mint, and grilled meats. If you sit on the outdoor terrace, flanked by floral arrangements, you’ll also savor views of the Sea of Galilee, the rolling hills of the Golan Heights, and Lebanon just beyond. On summer evenings, Umm Qais becomes something of a hotspot, with an extensive dinner buffet and a DJ.

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