Believed to be one of the best Roman sites outside of Italy, the Jerash ruins are an archeological site not to be missed.
To be completely honest with you the moment I landed in Jordan I had never even heard about the Roman Ruins of Jerash. The plan was to stay in Amman for a couple of days and then drive towards the Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum. Nothing was set in stone yet and that’s also one of my preferred ways of traveling.
I arrived to our hotel in Amman pretty late but was immediately greeted by our lovely host who asked me about my plans. He soon heard Jerash wasn’t one of them and told me I had to put it on my bucket list!
So as soon as my friend Kate arrived the next day we went to pick up our rental car, faced the traffic in Amman and drove up to see the Roman ruins of Jerash.
And truth be told it really did make for the perfect day trip from Amman and in this guide I’ll tell you everything you need to know!
The Roman Ruins of Jerash – The Perfect Day Trip from Amman
Jerash is a city in Northern Jodan that is actually incredibly famous for its Roman ruins. After Petra it’s the second most visited archeological site by tourists in the country. Jerash is known for the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, and is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the “Pompeii of the Middle East“. Although Jerash was never buried by a volcano. Gerasa (the ancient name for Jerash) was founded around 170 BC, the relatively small settlement of that time focused around the Temple of Zeus and the low hill opposite.
Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the eastern Mediterranean. But Modern day Jerash suffers from its proximity to Amman and is more like a farmers’ town, reliant on income from olive processing and tourism.
There aren’t many restaurants and pretty much one hotel and no one explores the city beyond its ruins. That’s why the best way to visit Jerash is to take a one day trip from the capital Amman.
How to reach Jerash from Amman
Jerash is only 46 minutes driving from Amman and it’s a pretty smooth ride, that is as soon as you’ve exited the busy streets of Amman. To be fair, driving in the centre of Amman isn’t for the faint of heart. There are no lines on the road and when it comes to traffic rules… well those are pretty non existent.
But once you’re out of the capital you’re good to go and it’s all smooth driving until you reach Jerash. Here you don’t have to drive into the centre to reach the archeological site and there’s plenty of parking space available.
TIP – When you’re driving in Jordan watch out for the “invisible” speed bumps. They are very badly marked always seem to appear out of nowhere. It happened more than once that we felt more like we were flying than driving.
First, catch a taxi to Tabarbour Bus Station (North Bus Station), which should cost around 2JD by meter from most of Amman. From there, the bus to Jerash costs 1JD and will take you to near the entrance to the ruins.
When to visit Jerash
I traveled to Jordan in the middle of August and I have to admit, it wasn’t the best idea. During the day the sun became scorching hot and I pretty much ran from shade to shade while exploring the ancient ruins of Jerash. These temperatures are nice if all you want to do is lay in the sun but otherwise I don’t advise visiting Jordan during the Summer months.
Instead go for the more cooler months during Spring or Fall. During the day temperatures are still nice and you won’t be cold, just make sure to bring a jacket with you cause in the evening it can become rather chilly. Also during Spring wildflowers are out everywhere (even the desert is covered with them) and the hills and valleys running down the centre of the country are lush and colourful.
The opening hours of Jerash vary throughout the year. In winter, between November and March, the site opens at 8am and closes at 4pm, in the summer, it is possible to stay in Jerash until 8pm.
Where to stay in Amman
When it comes to hotels in Amman the city is an example of contrasts. On one hand there’s the luxurious 5 – star hotels with its enormous sky scrapers and then there’s the cheaper down town hotels perfect for backpackers. Unfortunately there’s no such thing here yet as a small boutique hotels but I’ve listed my favourites in both categories below.
- Four Seasons Hotel Amman – A palatial oasis in the burgeoning desert destination. The Four Seasons Amman boasts a view over Jordan’s capital from atop the highest of the white city’s seven hills.
- Amman Rotana – The first tower hotel in Amman at 189 meter high.
- The House Boutique Suites – At The House, each and every suite is a retreat that brings together the old and the new.
- Dali House – A spacious apartment close to the centre of Amman.
- Seventh-Star Hotel – A beautiful and spacious suite at a 3-star hotel offering a stunning view over the city at a very affordable price.
READ MY FULL REVIEW ON STAYING AT THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL IN AMMAN, INCLUDING A LOT MORE DETAILS & PHOTOS!
Jerash Visiting Guide
- Opening hours – From 8am until 4pm (Winter) or until 8pm (Summer)
- The entrance fee for visiting the Roman ruins of Jerash is 12JOD, which also includes entry to the Archeological Museum on site. Make sure to bring it with you in cash.
- Jordan Pass – Before departing for Jordan you should purchase the Jordan Pass online. There are several packages available but with all of them the tourist entry visa fees are included as are most tourist attractions. So for instance if you’ve purchased the Jordan Pass the entry to Jerash is free.
- Nicknames – The City of 1000 Columns or Pompeii of the Middle East
- Wear flat shoes and comfortable clothing. You’ll be doing a lot of walking while exploring the ruins.
- If you’re visiting in the Summer months make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses with you to protect you from the sun.
- Once you enter the site you’ll be able to also buy something to drink or eat at a small shop.
- There’s a restaurant on site which serves a delicious all you can eat buffet! We definitely indulged in this one and it was so damn good!
- The total duration of your visit will be between 2 or 3 hours.
- There are restrooms available on site.
What to wear while visiting the Roman Ruins of Jerash
Jerash Ruins – Points of Interest
Jerash consists of an extensive collection of archways, columns, baths and theatres. And a lot of people have no idea how big the site actually is. Honestly you could walk here for hours and hours admiring the magnificent architecture! But if you’re a little short on time I’ve listed the most beautiful and important highlights for you below!
The Arch of Hadrian
The Arch of Hadrian is one of the most impressive archways I have ever seen. It measures 11 meters high from top to bottom and consists of 3 major archways, all with beautiful and intricate detailing. It’s the entry point to the ancient city of Jerash and a wonderful preview of what’s next.
Cardo Maximus and the Oval Plaza
As you might have guessed the name Cardo Maximus is the old Latin name and means as much as the “main street“. This one runs from the main gate you just walked through and goes all the way to the impressive Oval Plaza. Over its entire length it’s lined with rows of columns on either side and you’ll feel like Roman royalty while walking across it.
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis in Jerash is a truly impressive one! Especially if you compare it to its namesake in Turkey where only 1 single column remains. Artemis was the patron goddess on Jerash so it makes perfect sense that you find her temple perched on top of a small hill, overlooking the beautiful ruins of the old city of Jerash. Even that is was built in the second century AD, 11 of the temple’s 12 original columns still stand today!
The Cathedral Atrium
The Jerash Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary was built on the site of a former Roman temple of Dionysus. The remains of the Roman temple were removed to the level of the podium shortly before the start of construction of the new building of the Cathedral, and its architectural elements, such as columns, were reused as material for the masonry of the church
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