Ajlun & Jerash
Departure at 8:30 AM
Round trip Transportation
Jerash and Ajlun Castle (Qalaat Ar Rabadh).
Departure from your Amman hotel. We take the road northwards from Amman, driving in less than an hour to Jerash. There you will visit the expansive remains of the best preserved of all the ancient Roman Empire’s provincial cities. Jerash was founded in 331 BCE on the orders of Alexander the Great who settled some of his retired Macedonian soldiers there. They and subsequent generations of their descendents, through intermarrying with the women of the region, created a bi-lingual Hellenic-Semitic culture which flourished for many centuries. They built Jerash into one of the finest cities of the broader eastern Mediterranean region. It became one of the league of cities known as the Decapolis, all of which were given special economic, judicial and trading rights when, in BCE 63, they were incorporated into the Roman Empire. Jerash reached its peak during the first and second centuries, CE. The well preserved theatre, the temples and many of the streets as well as the large oval-shaped forum or agora date from this period. The town adopted Christianity early as attested by the remains of numerous churches which were mainly built, many with fine mosaic floors, during the Byzantine period. Walking along the ancient streets of Jerash and discovering the city’s remarkably well preserved remains is sure to be one of the highlights of any visit to Jordan.
After our walking tour of the ancient city and lunch in a traditional restaurant either in Jerash or on the way to the castle, we head up into the forested hilltops west of Jerash. On the top of one of the highest summits of the region is the Castle of Ajlun, also known as Qalaat Ar Rabadh. This exceptionally well preserved castle, despite war and earthquakes, has withstood the tests of time. It is in a beautiful location among pine forests in the Ajlun Forest Reserve. It was built on the site of an earlier monastery by the nephew of Salah al Din, Izz al Din Usama in CE 1184 to 1185 during the Ayyubid period. Salah al Din’s family name was Al Ayyub. Its construction was a military response to the Crusaders having built Belvoir Castle that stands across on the other side of the Jordan Valley in the Judean mountains.
Only a couple of years after it had been built, when the Crusaders were defeated at the Battle of the Horns of Hattin in CE 1187 and were forced out of all non-coastal parts of the Holy Land, the castle lost its major military importance. It remained an administrative centre for the region and a way to control the nearby iron mines until the beginning of the 20th century.
After our exploration of this fascinating castle with its museum exhibition displaying many interesting military and historical artefacts, we take our vehicle back to your Amman hotel, arriving back in the late afternoon. L.
As per itinerary –
B: Breakfast, PL: Picnic Lunch, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.