Umm Qais, Jordan
Photo by Alex Cretey Systermans
Umm QaisTucked 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.
about 4 years ago
In Northern Jordan, the hilltop village of Umm Qais, known as Gadara in the bible, provides sweeping views of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. (Mathew 8:28-34). It’s skirted by Greco-Roman ruins from the Decapolis city of Gadara, yet Umm Qais also provides a window into the everyday life of modern Jordanians. You can arrange to have lunch with a local family while in Umm Qais; be sure to try cha’acheel, a traditional specialty made with a leaf that’s believed to ward off diseases (did I mention it tastes good?). Umm Qais also offers great hiking and biking routes that can take you to the villages of Mukheibeh on the banks of the humble Yarmouk River. It’s also a jumping-off point for exploring Yarmouk Nature Reserve, one of the last remaining deciduous oak forests in Jordan.