Today was a really exciting day for me because we went to the ruins of the Roman town of Gerasa, nowadays known as Jerash. This city in the north of Jordan, about 45 minutes drive from Amman, has one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world. Up there with Leptis Magna in Libya and even Pompeii in Italy. I first read about it 15 years ago and have wanted to visit ever since
Gerasa flourished in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD and indeed right up through the Christian, Byzantine and Muslim periods until it was destroyed by earthquake in the late 8th century, buried and largely forgotten. In the 1800s it was rediscovered and excavated. Even now, the entire residential area remains unexcavated, but what is to be seen are all the public areas: 2 theatres, temples, a hippodrome, forums including an amazing Oval Forum and a long series of colonnaded streets. It’s enormous.
We had our entry with the Jordan Pass of course, arriving at about 11am. The site was quiet all day. There were other visitors of course but it was nowhere near as crowded as somewhere like Pompeii. We entered through Hadrian’s Triumphal Gate, built for the emperor’s visit. Just amazed at the extent of the site and the excellent state of the remaining buildings. The colonnaded streets are especially stunning. The Oval Forum was fantastic. Never seen anything like it anywhere else.
We spent about 3 hours exploring, thoroughly enjoyed the visit. It really lived up to expectation, exceeded actually. The only disappointment was that the chariot races were not on today. Jerash is the world centre of replica chariot making. There is a business based there which make them for tv and film (think Gladiator) and they actually stage chariot racing in the Hippodrome. Also some low key gladiator events there too. But… today…. it wasn’t on. We were quite disappointed because given the excellent condition of the hippodrome, it would have been something to see.
We got back at about 4 and after a rest, Lucy and I went to a wine tasting and the Jordan Valley Winery. The vineyard is in the north of Jordan and they make a wide variety of wines. We tasted 6 and they were all good, better than expected. I particularly liked the tempranillo. Only 20 JOD for a tour and the tasting, quite good value.
We met Bob for dinner at 8 at Fakheldrin, one of the most famous restaurants in Amman. Lebanese/Levantine food and a haunt of Royalty, Politicians and the famous for many years. It really lived up to the hype with delicious food and very, very professional and friendly service. It was really buzzing with diners tonight. We had a selection of small plates to start and then a main each. I had grilled pigeon in a lemon and garlic glaze; Lucy had a mixed grill; Bob had lamb schwarma pie. We tasted all of them and they were all very good. At the end of the meal we were served an enormous fruit bowl plus bowls of candied fruit and fruit in syrup. One of these was a new one for me – aubergine in syrup – it was fantastic. A very worthy last mean in Amman, definitely the best so far and not the most expensive. Thoroughly recommended.