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The Best Historical Sites in Jordan

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There's more to Jordan's history than Petra. Away from the Nabataeans' feted "Rose-Red City," a treasure trove of ruins awaits. Travelers who want to dig a little deeper into this nation's past can walk down colonnaded Roman roads, gaze up at Umayyad frescoes, and scramble over slumping rubble to explore toppled churches still clinging on to fragments of once majestic mosaics. Better yet, at most sites you're likely to have the entire place to yourself.
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Balqa, Jordan
Amid a desolate sweep of scrubby plains, nudged next to the border with Israel and the Palestinian Territories, is one of Jordan's most important holy sites. This is where, most scholars agree, John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ and where,...
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Unnamed Road, Jordan
The vast ruins of Umm Qais (ancient Gadara) are tucked right into the tip of northwest Jordan, with sprawling views across to the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights from the edge of the plateau. Settlement here at this site runs from the...
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As-Salt, Jordan
The charming town of Salt, with its creamy-colored limestone buildings climbing up the hillside, is within day-tripping distance from Amman. Nearly all the town's architecture dates from the Ottoman period, giving the town a distinctive...
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Ajloun, Jordan
It wasn't just the Crusaders who built castles in Jordan. This castle (built in 1184) was constructed by Izz ad-Din Usama bin Munqidh, one of Salah ad-Din's generals. Ajloun Castle's vaulted passageways and chambers are on a smaller scale than...
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Tabqet Fahel, Jordan
Pella is the place to put on your archaeology hat. There may be no triumphant temple remains or grand Roman roads here, but if you like history, Pella is one of Jordan's most important archaeological sites. Excavations here reveal a staggering...
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40, Jordan
It wasn't just the Byzantines who had a thing for frescoes, you know. The Umayyad rulers (the first of the Arab empires) had a bit of a fancy for artistic frippery as well. Jordan's so-called "desert castles" amid the stark sand plains east of...
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Mafraq Governorate, Jordan
The black basalt ruins of Umm al-Jimal have to be one of Jordan's most intriguing historical sites. Hardly anyone ever makes it out here, which is a shame because this vast Roman and Byzantine town built uniformly out of volcanic basalt is packed...
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Jerash, Jordan
One of the best-preserved Greco-Roman sites in the world, Jerash allows the pomp and ceremony of the ancient world to come alive. Although founded during the Hellenistic era, it's the monuments of Jerash's glory days under Roman rule that have...