Buried until 1920, the ruins of Jerash are an example of conservation of a time as great as that of the Roman empire. Entering Jerash is time travel, and it's almost like being in ancient Rome. This city that came to have about 20 thousand inhabitants, became one of the 10 most important cities of the Roman Empire. We enter this city and explain what are the better places to discover a city that had its moment, a moment that is perceived when one makes an appearance in this exciting city.
A little history
Jerash, a city that at its peak reached more than 20 thousand inhabitants belonged to the province of Gerasa, one of the near eastern regions of the Roman Empire. Jerash began appearing on the "map" in times of Alexander the Great, due to its fertile lands and for being within one of the main trade routes. It was the Roman general Pompey who integrated it into the empire and Trajan who brought his greatest period of splendor, when Trajan annexed the kingdom of the Nabateans to the province of Gerasa.
Shortly after, with the arrival of Adriano to the city, the most important monument of the city was built, the famous Adriano's arch, beginning a slow decline that lasted several centuries and was partly pushed with the destruction of its neighbor Palmira, Syria, in 273 AD, and the decline in caravan trade and the increase in sea routes.
Already in the year 746 he suffered a great earthquake that destroyed part of the city and to this day suffered several invasions, the occasional Christian, turning some of its temples into templar fortresses.
But today Jerash has changed a lot. Currently Jerash is one of the most attractive points of the Jordanian geography and being close to Love, the capital, makes your visit much more interesting. After all, Jerash is only 40 km away and less than an hour away by car or bus.
The ruins of Jerash is a clear example of a large city of provinces, with its theaters with numbered seats, a large square and above all, two great accesses to the city, where the Arch of Hadrian stands out, the entry point to the ruins from Jerash
He Adriano's Archcurrently measures 13 m, half of what average in the year 129 A.D. Behind this one is the racecourse, partially restored, next to the houses of the villagers of modern Jerash. If it weren't for a small fence, the children of the place would use it as a great soccer field, the truth is that they want to see it.
After the racecourse comes the imposing square oval surrounded by numerous columns. From this point you can visit the southern theater on the left, going up a path that leads to the largest theater of the Jerash ruins and the best point to admire the entire city from above.
Jerash is a city that is visited in one morning, of course it is better to get up early, especially to avoid tourist buses or the schools that visit it. Anyway, because of its size, one can always feel alone, although in the best locations depending on the time, one can feel a little overwhelmed on dates such as Holy Week.
Due to the layer of sand that covered the city, just over 50cm until the beginning of the 20th century, most of the buildings are very well preserved, highlighting the following:
The most famous monument in the city was built to commemorate the visit of the emperor Adriano. It has 3 arches and the largest of them measures 13m. The upper part that crowns the main arch was restored last century.
Next to the temple of Zeús it has a capacity for 3,000 spectators. Today it occasionally hosts outdoor concerts due to its excellent acoustics. If you see the video of this article you can check it.
Currently restored it had a capacity for 15,000 spectators. I can already imagine horse racing and sports competitions there. It was also a place that was used to play polo in the seventh century.
The Jerash exponent and the reference point to get to know the city. It is not clear what their function was, perhaps a market, but the 56 columns that surround it and its perfectly paved floor make the Oval Square next to the South Theater the two best places in the ruins of Jerash.
Cardo Maximus / Avenue of the columns
Built in the first century AD, it occupied the main road of the city. You can still see the traces of the carriages and the different heights of the columns because at that time the houses or shops occupied this impressive avenue had different heights.
Nymphaeum / Ninfeo
The most important fountain in the city and temple dedicated to nymphs. In Greek mythology the nymphs were the daughters of Zeus and represented the fecundity of nature, since they lived in the woods or in the mountains. It is easy to identify them since they are always represented naked. Instead on the Roman period They are usually associated mainly with the divinities of the aquatic environment, so this temple houses a fountain.
Temple of Artemis
Located north of the city, it was dedicated to the goddess of the war and fertility, two curious concepts of uniting in a God. Today there are only 11 of the 12 columns that made it up, but the history books say that the most impressive of this temple were its statues and its cold marble floor that unfortunately has not reached our days.
Today it is one of the few places to shelter from the scorching sun and it is common to see the guides with their groups inside this temple.
Temple of Artemis
Smaller in size but similar spectacular than the southern theater, has arrived to our days with an excellent state of conservation. It has excellent views towards the north gate, one of the least visited monuments perhaps because it is at the other end of the city.
I recommend surrounding it and accessing the highest part of the amphitheater, the best place to see the entire northern slope of Jerash.
Finally, before leaving Jerash behind I wanted to make a mention of Turkey, since this place reminded us of the innumerable ruins, mainly Greek truth, on the southern coast of Anatolia. In this area of the planet, in my humble opinion, there are possibly the best preserved ruins of those times that we will tell later, since this is another trip and is another story. Javier Blanquer
When to go?
It can be visited all year round, but as elsewhere in Jordan, it is advisable to avoid the high summer temperatures. In Jerash there are very few places to shelter from the sun, except in the theaters or in some temple. Holy Week, a Jordanian classic, is very hot, but it has the disadvantage of hordes of tourists.
How to get?
It can be reached by bus. There are departures every day from Amman at the station Abdali. If you are a little more delicate with the heat, the Hijazi company has air-conditioned buses. It doesn't take more than an hour.
One thing to keep in mind, after 17h, buses do not usually run to Amman, so the only way to return would be by taxi.
What to wear
It is still a tourist location of the first order and where you can get almost everything, but a good hat, a backpack with your sandwich and water can not be missing. As we said before, the sun, especially in summer, was quite heavy.
Where to sleep?
Good question, since we did not sleep there, especially because of the proximity of Amman, the capital, where there are many places to stay.
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