Amman is the capital city of Jordan and one of the most modernised locations in the Middle East. Unlike other major Islamic cities that channel an aura of cultural antiquity, Amman is an entirely globalised hub characterised by high-flyer residences, trendy eateries, and booming art galleries influenced by Western sensibilities. It is a favourite stopover spot for travellers en route to the popular neighbouring attraction, the Dead Sea.
What to see and do
One of Amman’s monumental grounds is the Temple of Hercules that rests atop the Citadel Mountain. It is a remarkable site with origins dating back to 162 AD. These reconstructed ruins stand erect and looking over the city; the view at sunset from this platform is a spectacular scene that pulls visitors here every evening. Be astounded by this striking panorama accompanied by the peal of Amman’s mosques simultaneously sounding out the call to prayer.
Although the city itself offers little in the way of archaic Arabian buildings, it does have some notable museums with excellent collections that elaborately detail the development of the region – all the way from prehistoric eras. The Jordan Archaeological Museum houses a sterling exhibition of antiquities and artefacts, including Iron Age anthropomorphic sepulchres and the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. This museum is situated near the Temple of Hercules in the Amman Citadel.
From Amman, many travellers head over to the shores of the Dead Sea, a hypersaline lake named after its extremely high salt content that is unable to support aquatic life. Tourists flock here for the novelty, but the experience isn’t complete without taking a dip in the lake – except you would only float due to the high salinity of the water!
The mud in these shores are rumoured to have therapeutic effects, urging many to take a warm mud bath while drifting around on their backs. Do take caution that swimming here is hazardous due to high buoyancy, and the water will sting upon contact with open wounds and the eyes.
For foreign travellers, taxis in Amman are the most convenient form of transportation, and are considerably inexpensive. White taxis ride fixed routes and are shared, while yellow taxis are private hires, and the meters are not always used so it’s wise to negotiate a fare beforehand. It is customary to add another NZD4 (20 piasters) to your final fare. The local bus system may be disorienting for the uninitiated visitor, as none of them are marked in English.
Getting to Amman
Queen Alia International Airport, about 32km from Amman, receives numerous international and domestic airlines, including Royal Jordanian, Emirates, and Qantas. You can travel from here to Amman by car along route 15 or 30; by Airport Express Buses to mid-town, with extra cost for luggage; or by Airport Taxi, from outside the passenger terminals.