Greetings from Amman, Jordan.
Met up with Abdul and George who are my guides for this trip at about 9AM, I had no clue what to expect as I explained in the last update. We did so much today, I can’t believe it and here I am about to try and fit what could be an entire trip into an update. Spent the day exploring desert castles and the city of Amman in Jordan…
We drove out of town and visited three separate castles, for what it’s worth only one of them was really a castle, the others had separate uses. The reason I’m so ecstatic is that one of the castles was inhabited by T.E Lawrence during the winter of 1917, this means a lot to me, we’ll get to that later. The castles, forts, buildings we visited were Al Harraneh, Al Azraq Castle (where Lawrence lived) and the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is called Qusair Amra.
The first one we visited that is closest to the city is All Harraneh, it was mainly a caravan stop that was originally built roughly 1200 years ago. It’s still in good condition and resembles a castle but was never used as such. People on the spice trail would stop there and it had several other uses. It really does resemble a castle with arrow slits and all but was told they were used primarily for ventilation.
After that we headed to which was originally built in the early 4th century by the Romans and then rebuilt by Arabs after it was destroyed in the crusades. In 1927 there was a large earth quake which sort of destroyed it and the reason it’s in the condition that it is today. It’s also where T.E Lawrence spent the winter of 1917. His room was right over the main entrance to keep tabs on who was coming in and what was happening inside the walls.
The maiden name of my grandmother on my fathers side is “Lawrence”. From the time I was a kid there was always talk about him because he is from the same small town that my grandmother’s family originates from in the UK and shares the same name. Hanging out in his old stomping grounds was just one of those experiences that I’ll never forget, getting to visit his room for the winter of 1917-1918 was special in particular. The photo below was his room and the video above explains the place.
That castle was a real castle, did a full tour and got to see what all the different rooms were used for and could only imagine what it was like in its prior glory. Afterwards we headed towards which is a very unique building and also built over 1200 years ago. It’s one of the most important examples of early Islamic art and architecture. It is also covered in frescoes which depict women, hunting, signs of the zodiac and six kings. The photo at the top is from the exterior of this place, the video below explains it in detail. Afterwards we had a tea in the tent below, met a Bedouin gent going to Montreal for the first time in October, filled him in.
Afterwards we drove into the downtown core of . We stopped at Hashem Restaurant which is one of the most famous for its hummus, falafel, etc… It’s also very famous because many powerful political figures from Jordan have visited there, including the Royal Family.
Supposedly one day roughly two years ago, a car pulled up out front and out stepped the Royal Family. They sat down and enjoyed a meal like everyone else, the restaurant is obviously very proud of that fact. Supposedly they came without any security or anything, just like anyone else, pretty cool. Down the road was a peanut stand run by the son of the gent who started it. He had photos of the queen buying peanuts there.
The meal was delicious but even more filling. Seriously felt distressed afterwards from consuming so much hummus, falafel and other dishes with names that elude me. Suffice to say it was incredibly filling, one of the dishes is nicknamed “cement” as you’ll be full for hours. Afterwards, ran into the friendly cobbler above before heading to the fruit market. It was a lively place like most markets. The feeling I got was Africa meets Asia, that said the one in Odessa, Ukraine was similar. No one seemed to mind me carrying around my camera besides one meat guy and he was just like, please don’t film me.
From there we headed to the in the center of town. It’s in very good condition and is where Greek & Roman architecture meet. Greeks always built their theaters on the side of a hill while Romans always had tunnels, this one had both. Spent some time there before moving on to the Amman Citadel.
The site of the Amman Citadel dates back to 6500BC. It’s ancient holy land and if you’re interested, do click the link above. The history of the place dates so far back that I can’t even begin to regurgitate what I learned today. Something notable of this place was that it hosted the largest temple to Hercules anywhere on earth and has a museum with some of if not the oldest statues in the world. There are remains of part of Hercules’ hand to give you an idea of the size of the temple. There were also steps from the theater to the citadel, must of been quite the march.
During the day also passed a highway sign that had directions to Iraq and Saudi Arabia, had to take a photo as well, it’s not something most see everyday, yes? On the topic of Iraq, near the Roman theater, picked up crisp old Iraqi Dinar notes. They are useless now but something I couldn’t pass up, may be worth something some day and at the very least, coolest currency I’ve come across in my travels. Also saw a dream home, check out the photo below, INDEED, yes? There is a huge difference between the buildings in old town and some of the more affluent parts such as Abdoun which is the modern part of the city.
I’d like to continue but believe enough has been said and a huge day tomorrow. Off to dinner at and then hopefully hit the gym below before the pool, not sure if it’s open, I’m becoming portly, sigh.
P.S: Abdul and I are perfecting our video skills, it’s a work in progress.