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Umm Qais

Irbid Governate
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Umm Qais

The town of Umm Qais is tucked into the hilly northwestern corner of Jordan, commanding grand views across to the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights from the edge of its plateau.

The town has been here since the Hellenistic period, but it is best known for the Roman ruins of Gadara, from when it sat astride an important trade route. Many streets and buildings are still intact, dotted about with Ottoman-era stone houses, as the site was still occupied until the 1980s. Grandest of all the ruins is the grand theatre built in monumental black basalt, which sits off the wide Decumanus Maximus that still holds its original paving stones. There is a small museum in what was once the home of the Ottoman governor, and a celebrated restaurant in the old Ottoman school.

It was here at Gadara that Jesus Christ performed the miracle of casting demons out of men into the town's pigs.

In recent years, Umm Qais has been a pioneer of community tourism in Jordan, and it's possible to take cooking classes, nature walks, and join a local beekeeper as well as enjoy the ancient ruins.