"Amman عمّان" Top 5 Page for this destination Amman by MM212

Amman Travel Guide: 765 reviews and 1,627 photos

Philadelphia - Rabbat Ammon

An ancient city, Amman traces its earliest roots back over five millennia. Although a settlement existed on Jebel al-Qala'a, the Citadel Hill since about 3500 BC, it was not until two millennia later that a great city emerged on the site as the capital of the Ammonite kingdom founded by the Semitic tribe beni Ammon. They named their capital city Rabbat Ammon, which means "house of Ammon". The Ammonite apogee came to end at the hands of the Babylonians in 585 BC sending their city into a period of decline which lasted until after the arrival of Alexander the Great. One of his successors, Ptolemy Philadelphus rebuilt the city in the 3rd century BC and renamed it Philadelphia, after his own name. While changing hands from Ptolemies to Seleucids to Nabateans, Philadelphia resurged as the southernmost city in the Decapolis, the ten regional thriving cities encompassing Damascus and Gerasa. The Romans conquered the city in 30 BC and constructed the many grand Roman monuments surviving to this day. Philadelphia's importance continued into the Byzantine period, when it briefly became the seat of Christian bishops, and lasted until the destructive Persian invasion in the 7th century AD. The Omayyads then displaced the Byzantines and the Persians, restored the city's Semitic name, albeit modified as Amman, and gave it another brief revival, but it all came to an end with the great earthquake of 749 AD.

After nature annihilated the ancient city, Philadelphia and Amman went into oblivion for centuries. It remained a mere settlement of 2000 people through the early 19th century. In 1878, greater life began to return when the fertile valleys between the seven hills of Amman were settled by Circassian emigrants escaping the Russian expansion into the Caucasus region. A few decades later, Amman was put back on the map when the Ottomans made it a stop along the new Hejaz Railway linking Constantinople with Medina. Soon afterwards, the re-born city became the capital of a new state the Trans-Jordan, carved by the British out of the Ottoman Empire. Nowadays, Amman is a large sprawling city of 2 million inhabitants made up of Jordanians, Circassians, Palestinians and more recently also Iraqis.

Due to its fragmented history, Amman's architectural heritage is unlike any city in the Levant. It boasts no mediaeval structures - absolutely nothing between the 8th and 19th centuries - only ancient ruins and modern construction (the only exception is the Ayyubid Watchtower in the citadel). Thus, visitors must be prepared to find no mediaeval souks to wander or magnificent Mamluke and Ottoman-period mosques to admire, such as those in Aleppo or Cairo. Most visitors see the main sites in a day and then head off to visit the more exciting destinations around Jordan. However, if you are fortunate enough to have friends in Jordan, then they may show you their version of Amman: a modern, liberal, tolerant, safe and fun Middle Eastern city.

My first visit to Amman (and Jordan) was a 10 hour layover in August 2008. A friend was kind enough to host me during my brief stay and showed me the sites, so I was able to witness both the tourist and the local aspects of the city. My second visit is outlined below:

15-day Jordan/Syria/Arabia Itinerary in Dec 2010/Jan 2011:

Amman - Madaba - Iraq al Amir - Salt - Syria (Bosra - Suweida - Qanawat - Shahba) - Madaba (again) - Dead Sea - Kerak - Wadi Musa/Petra - Wadi Rum - Amman (again) - Jerash => Hijaz region of Arabia

  • Last visit to Amman: Jan 2011
  • Intro Updated Feb 12, 2015
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Reviews (38)

Comments (10)

  • xaver's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Interesting reading, I did not know the city was built on seven hills as Rome.

    • MM212's Profile Photo
      Nov 27, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      Thanks. Hope you are planning a trip to Jordan.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    It is a rel trip and to see the culture and the historic sites virtually and learn more about this area. Your tips are very good

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    nice page!

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2009 at 3:37 AM

    You certainly made the most of the time you had in Amman... and great that you made it to Wild Jordan. leyle

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Dec 24, 2008 at 4:12 AM

    Hi I loved my intro trip to Jordan in Oct - wanted to go to Amman mostly to see the black and white mosque but with my car didnt want any more city hassle by then - its on my next time list tho!thanks for your page!

  • barryg23's Profile Photo
    Dec 14, 2008 at 8:06 AM

    Hey Momo, happy birthday foir yesterday. I'm heading to Jordan next March, wasn't planning on spending too much time in Amman but having read your page I've changed my mind. Looks like an interesting city.

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2008 at 9:13 AM

    We enjoyed your Amman page and tips. Jordan is a country that we would like to visit one day and you gave us a lot of helpful info.

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo
    Sep 18, 2008 at 9:39 AM

    your restaurant... mhhh... i did not eat there but i visited the shop with my jordanian friend. fell in love with the decorated ostrich eggs :-)

  • Redang's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2008 at 11:21 AM


  • Tijavi's Profile Photo
    Sep 12, 2008 at 4:51 AM

    Another interesting ME page in the making...do let me know too when it's done. Cheers from the desert.


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