Saturday, 1 May 2010

Jordan : an escapade

Salam. A little experience to be shared.

On Tuesday, 13th April we hired Abul A'la with his MPV to take us around Amman to visit a numbers of historical sites. We left Irbid for Amman at 0930 hrs. Amman is built on seven hills, or jabals, each of which more or less defines a neighborhood. Most jabals once had a traffic circle, and although most of these have now been replaced by traffic lights, Amman’s geography is often described in reference to the eight circles which form the spine of the city.

Amman city from The Citadel

The Citadel

The Citadel is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon, and excavations here have revealed numerous Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic remains. We paid 1JD* each for the entrance.

1st stop : Amman Citadel (Jabal Qal'ah)

Jabal Qal'ah, situated in the middle of Amman was occupied as early as the Neolithic period, and fortified during the bronze age. The emerging settlement was named Rabbath-Ammon (Great City of Ammonites) and centered here during the Ammonite Period (Iron Age). In ancient times, Amman with its surrounding region was successively ruled by the then-superpowers of the Middle East: Assyria (8 BC), Babylonia (6 BC), the Ptolemies, the Seleucids (3 BC), Rome (1st  BC), and the Umayyads (7 AD).It was then rebuilt in the classical style and named Philadelphia, after the Ptolemic ruler of Egypt, King Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The city was incorporated into Pompey the Great's province of Syria, and later into the province of Arabia created by Trajan (106 AD).

Team No-tea (from left) : Izyan, Dr. Anuar Sani, Nadia, Farahin, Syairah, Hani

When Transjordan passed into Arab rule in the 7th century AD, its Umayyad rulers restored the city's original name of Amman. Neglected under the Abbasids and abandoned by the Mamlukes, the city's fortunes did not revive until the late 19th century, under the Ottoman empire. Amman became the capital of the Emirate of Transjordan in 1921, and of the newly-created Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1947. Greater Amman (the core city plus suburbs) today remains by far the most important urban area in Jordan, containing over half of the country's population or about 3 million out of 5 million people.

Things to be seen in The Citadel:

The Temple of Hercules

The great temple of Hercules (Herakles), today also known as the Great Temple of Amman. The temple was built in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). It is larger than any temple in Rome and the massive structure faces east. The temple stands within an immense temenos(sacred precinct) that is surrounded by porticos.  The absence of columns on the rest of the structure, has convinced the excavator that the temple was actually left unfinished.

The Byzanthine Church : The remains of a small Byzantine Basilica

The Umayyad Mosque

The Umayyad Palace Complex is known simply as Al-Qaser (the Palace), which dates back to the Islamic Umayyad period around 720 AD. Its exact function is unknown, but the building includes a monumental gateway, cruciform audience hall and four vaulted chambers. A colonnaded street runs through the complex and to the north and east, ruins of the palace grounds are visible.

2nd stop: The Grand Husseini Mosque

It was originally built by Umar Al-Khattab in 640 AD. Then, it was rebuilt by King Abdullah I in 1924 using striking pink-and-white stone. It is also speculated as the site of the Cathedral of Philadelphia. Between the Al-Husseini Mosque and the Citadel is Amman’s famous gold souq, which features row after row of glittering gold treasures.

We forgot to take some shots because we were quite 'busy' shopping at the Wastul Balad which is situated near the mosque.

The abayas there are gorgeous and quite cheap

Al-Mudarraj (The Amphitheatre)

The Roman Amphitheatre viewed from The Citadel

It is situated down the hill from The Citadel and connected to it via a long, deep, and hidden tunnel. It is said to be the most impressive legacy of Roman Philadelphia (Amman) built under Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD). Its 33 rows once seated 5000 spectators for performances and possibly also had religious significance. It is still in regular use for theatrical and entertainment productions. The Forum was built in front of the Theater under Commodus in 189-190 AD. The entrance fee is 2JD but we didn't enter.

The Ahl Kahfi Mosque incidence

The mosque was built near the cave

Ahl Kahfi was not in our original plan because it was listed in the Jelajah Jordan programme. It was due to some misunderstanding and Abul A'la was very excited to show us the place. And so, we arrived there minutes before Asar. Visitors were told to perform the prayer first before they can enter the cave. The cave is quite small, inside it now are the tombs of the seven sleepers. 

May we all be granted the faith as strong as of the seven sleepers

Final stop : Maqam Bilal bin Rabah

He is a great man

The tomb is situated in a village quite far from the main city. We were there for a few minutes and prayed for his well-being.

We then stopped by at a bank because Dr. Anuar needed to withdraw some cash before we head back for Irbid. We arrived at around 0715 hrs and paid Abul A'la 80JD for his service. He was nice and quite friendly. At first, he didn't talk much but as the day passed, he talked more and faster. The night continued with the Pre-clinical Hang-out Programme at Bayt Mohabbatein before we called it a day. Overall, it was an enjoyable trip and worth any trouble.

 Team No-tea at Grande Pranzo

* 1JD = RM 4.60