In honor of there being 9 days left until our return to the States, here are 9 Hidden Gems of Jordan. Why choose this topic? Well, I am glad you asked. When one thinks of places in Jordan, they usually think of Petra, Wadi Rum, or-if you are a Lawrence of Arabia enthusiast-Aqaba. Some of the places I have listed are somewhat known, but from my experience in Jordan, they are not as popular to foreigners as the perviously listed places. So here it is:
9. Cave Bar
Listed as one of Buzzfeed’s ‘Top 20 Bars To Drink In Before You Die,’ Cave Bar is actually a 2,000 year old Nabatean tomb that has been turned into a bar located not even ten minutes away from Petra. If you see Petra, I would recommend hopping to Cave Bar either the night before or at the end of the day-if you still have the energy-and finishing the day with a nightcap in one of the little alcoves.
8. Umm Qays
Umm Qays is a town in the North of Jordan, which holds the remnants of an ancient Greco-Roman city. Not only does this site have wonderful arcitecture that is still in decent shape, but it also has the best view. From a certain point, you are able to see Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, the Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon, which “straddles” the border between Syria and Lebanon, and the Sea of Galilee. According to the inter-web, this is also the site mentioned in the New Testament where Jesus cast the demons and turned them into a herd of pigs.
Now probably the largest remaining Crusader castle, Kerak Castle was certainly a sight to see. Each step taken, was like traveling back in time. It was hard to believe that famous men such as Salahuddin once stepped within these walls. If you like exploring all the nooks and crannies of ancient castles, Kerak is the place for you.
6. Mt. Nebo
-If you know your Old Testament, Old Nebo is the place where God sent Moses to gaze down at the Promised Land before he died. I will admit that it is more of a spiritual experience, but the view is still capable of taking your breath away. You can also expect to make a furry friend or two.
5. Baptism Site of Jesus Christ
While people would list this as a place to go to in Israel, the actual Baptism Site is on the Jordan side of the Jordan River. From the site, you can walk to the river where you can get a clear view of Israel. Literally, Israel is less than 10 meters away from Jordan. We were told to not cross the buoys because on the other side of those buoys was Israel and the armed guards on both sides would not like us crossing without the proper travel documents.
4. Qasr Al Abd
In English “the Castle of the Slave,” was one of our first trips together as a group in Jordan. The story behind this castle is more of a tragedy than anything else. Legend has it, there was once a man named Tobiad who was in love with the daughter of a nobleman. When he asked for her hand in marriage, the nobleman told Tobiad he may only marry his daughter if he were to build “Castle of the Slave.” Upon completion, the nobleman killed Tobiad claiming that he did not want his daughter to marry a commoner.
3. Al Urdon Shop and Cafe
-Al Urdon has one of the best views in all of Amman. In fact, I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.
2. Ajlun Castle
Many thanks to CIEE for scheduling the trip to Ajlun Castle! This was one of the most impressive structures I have seen in Jordan. According to our tour guide, one of the primary purposes of this fortress was to “keep an eye on Jerusalem” during the Crusades. How did they do this? Well, it just so happens that the very top of this fortress is a lovely view of Jerusalem.
1. Wadi Bin Hammad
We did this hiking trail the same day as Kerak and it was worth the wet sneakers at the end of the day. The trail can be easily done in half-a-day. Along the way is lush greenery hanging from the gorge, multiple waterfalls, and plenty of tall rocks just waiting to be climbed. Most of the time, we were walking in water and while it was a pain to dry out our sneakers it was worth the views we got to see (and the gym time we were able to avoid). My favorite part of this trail is that there is no short cut or passageway out. You have to go to the end and then turn around and go back to the starting point. If you are ever in Jordan, you must go to Wadi bin Hammad. This is truly the #1 hidden gem of Jordan.
That is all for today folks! I hope this blog post gave you some serious wanderlust. Until tomorrow!