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Jordan: Amman Citadel, Enchanting Remains in the Heart of the Capital

At the heart of what was called Philadelphia during antiquity, the citadel contains some archaeological treasures, vestiges of the past splendors.

At the heart of what was called Philadelphia during antiquity, the citadel contains some archaeological treasures, vestiges of the past splendors.

Offering breathtaking views of Amman, Jordan’s capital, its many mosques and its huge amphitheater, Jabal Al Qal’a is full of ancient pearls. Many renowned dynasties have succeeded each other there, accumulating monuments whose architectures are dialoguing with one another to weave the history of the greatest civilizations!

Perched on the highest of the seven historic hills of the Jordanian capital, the remains of Jabal Al Qal’a are the best place in the city to listen to the Ammani unique call to prayer, since an only muezzin is broadcast by all mosques in the city. The harmony is perfect, thanks to these old stones which do not only return the Koranic echo, they radiate the modern capital with the greatest centuries of history.

The common center of the greatest civilizations

The greatest civilizations of the Mesopotamia have lived there, since the Bronze Age, which makes this major cradle of humanity one of the oldest inhabited places on earth. Since King David, who would have reigned over the city in the 10th century BC., the Assyrians then the Babylonians, the Ptolemaic dynasty, the Seleucids, the Romans and the Umayyads occupied this place, mixing up centuries of culture.

At the heart of what was called Philadelphia during antiquity, the citadel contains some archaeological treasures, vestiges of the past splendors. Unfortunately, there is not much left of it. Some monuments in ruins still demonstrate the historical importance of the place! One can still contemplate buildings dating from the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods in particular. It is amazing to see continuity between these styles from different eras, thus offering a unique glimpse at the beginnings of Islamic art.

Three major monuments to visit

Among these ancient tracks, a gigantic hand remains that belonged to a colossal statue of Hercules, the Romas hero. It lies at the feet of some magnificent Corinthian columns that survived the trial of time and which supported the Temple of Hercules built during the second century.

You can also find the remains of an ancient Byzantine church. Its cross-shaped architecture, carved arcades and geometric patterns are some of the elements also found in later constructions around the site. This sheds light on the inspirations of pre-Islamic art through the remarkable example of the magnificent Umayyad Palace. Although only the gateway remains, the building impresses and still shines with its past greatness. Dating back to the first Muslim civilization that reigned over the region in thee 8th century AD, it offers us a glimpse of the beginnings of Islamic architectural art, through its dome. Despite archaeological digs conducted by a number of teams of different nationalities since the 1920s, most of Jabal Al Qal’a’ treasures remain unexcavated, making this site so fascinating. Its potential is considerable and no one can still suspect the treasures still buried, but by treading these few paved stones, one literally and physically stands on thousands of years of human history!