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Lively, modern city of Amman has rich historical past

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (

Amman, the largest city in Jordan, is one electric with all that is new and today. A bustling, cosmopolitan center, Amman also has a rich historical past and ties to the ancient, Biblical world.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites, who for centuries fought the Israelites before falling under the yoke of the Assyrians.

Amman then became a great trade center in the Roman era and was renamed Philadelphia, continuing to prosper under the Omayyads after the Arab conquest in 635 A.D. Decline set in during the mid-Eighth century and Amman became a backwater through the Ottoman era.

Amman is now reaping the benefits of rapid development in the second half of the 20th century after the dispersals of the Palestinians after the wars with Israel.

There is plenty to see and do in Amman. The historic center, at the foot of the Citadel, holds the El-Hussein Mosque, built in 1932 and is surrounded by the city's souk and ruins of Roman Philadelphia.

Another landmark, the Roman Theater, with a seating capacity of about 6,000, was built around 170 AD. Located on Jabal al-Qala'a, near the center of downtown Amman, it is the most famous and easily accessible of the city's ancient sites.

Restored in the late 1950s, the theater is now used for special events and performances. It is open from Wednesday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no admission fee, but you may be thronged by potential "guides."

In addition, the Museum of Folklore, Costume, and Jewelry is part of the restored theater complex. It has a good display of Jordanian embroidery, traditional costume, Bedouin jewelry and mosaics from sites such as Jerash and Madaba. The museum is open the same hours as the theater.

The Citadel, on the hill facing the theater, can be reached by a very steep climb. It is a good vantage point from which to view the hills and valleys of Jordan's capital. At the top are the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules, built at the same time as the theater.

The Archaeological Museum of Jordan, also on the Citadel features an outstanding collection of material. The museum provides a comprehensive picture of human activity in Jordan from the Neolithic era up to the Byzantine period, and includes Nababaean artifacts from Petra and a collection of Dead Sea scrolls.

Not far from the museum is the Omayyad Palace completed around 750 A.D., which incorporates a whole, colonnaded Roman street and is through to have comprised administrative offices as well as the residence of Amman's local governor.

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