About fifty kilometers north of Amman, you’ll find one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world, ancient Gerasa. Today it’s known as the city of Jerash, and you can walk through, under, and between its spectacular ruins. To be honest, we didn’t have very high expectations, but in the end we were completely overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. It’s an absolute must, so don’t miss it!
The top sights in Jerash
The first stone was laid in the 2nd century B.C. and even in the 9th century “Gerasa” was still a bustling metropolis. This means that you can see the remains of a city that flourished continuously for more than a thousand years. Moreover, it must have been a very wealthy city, with a population of at least 20,000 people at its peak.
Today, a remarkable amount of the former city center is still standing. You can see parts of the walls with towers and a large southern and northern gate. Near the entrance is a huge hippodrome, and a little further on you’ll find the first of a series of temples. Particularly impressive is the large forum, which is surrounded by no less than 56 columns. From this immense square, the “Cardo Maximus“, a paved main street lined with columns, runs through the city. As if that weren’t enough, you can also visit two stunning amphitheaters. Especially the southern one is incredibly beautiful!
As you stroll through the authentic streets, with so much of it still standing, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to feel like a real Roman. It’s beautiful now, but just think how awe-inspiring it must have been in ancient times!
Tips for your visit to Jerash
Most tourists visit Jerash as a day trip, arriving in large buses from places like Amman or the Dead Sea region. However, we found it convenient to drive to the city in our own rental car. The traffic is much less congested than in Amman, and you don’t have to worry about parking. There are several well-marked free parking areas near the entrance to the site.
While there are plenty of guides eager to show you around at the ticket booth, you can easily visit Jerash without “assistance”. Many of the ruins are self-explanatory, and there are signs here and there with important information and a map. After walking the entire site, you’ll have covered a distance of about five to six kilometers.
Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen when visiting the city! There’s little shade, so you’ll be in the sun all day. Of course, you can always go for the “full experience” and wear an oriental scarf. They’re readily available and sold at the bazaar at the entrance.
As mentioned above, Jerash is mainly visited by day tourists, so the town is not really geared towards travelers. Therefore, the dining options are somewhat limited. Next to the parking lot is the Old Roman Restaurant, where you can join the entire busload for a buffet lunch for 7 JOD. Although we have a different concept of coziness, the food is quite delicious.
Admission to Jerash is included with the Jordan Pass . Single tickets cost 10 JOD (€13) per person.
A walking tour in Jerash
We parked our car near the southern entrance and strolled into Jerash under Hadrian’s triumphal arch. If you follow our itinerary, you won’t miss any of the highlights.
Staying overnight in Jerash
Jerash has a limited number of hotels. We recommend The Blue House Gerasa. This hostel has a cozy courtyard and two (roof) terraces. There we enjoyed a kebab for dinner, which we got from a nearby place due to the lack of restaurants. No complaints, though, as we had a view of the ruins and the food was delicious and affordable!
Simple rooms with shared bathroom. Delicious breakfast! Cozy courtyard garden and rooftop terrace.
Location overlooking Jerash. Clean, spacious rooms. Free parking. Delicious breakfast and dinner.
Twenty kilometers northwest of Jerash is Ajloun Castle. In the Middle Ages, it served as a base for Islamic troops fighting the Crusaders. We didn’t visit the castle itself, but we were told that the road leading to it is very scenic. It’s not just the castle, but the view of the Jordan Valley is said to be quite remarkable.