Jordan Travel Guide
The area of Jordan has been inhabited since prehistoric time, given that it is in the region known as the “cradle of civilization”. Known history began with the area controlled by the Canaanite groups Ammon, Edom and Moab. These tribal groups were in constant conflict with the Israelites, who controlled the region west of the Jordan River, and are mentioned several times in the Old Testament. During this time these groups were under the influence of various empires including the Akkadian, Egypt, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Greek. Once the Greek Empire broke into four parts it gave the small Nabataean Empire an opportunity to prosper from their capital of Petra in southern Jordan. Unfortunately, by the time the Romans ruled the land each of these tribes had lost their cultural identity.
The Roman Empire (and the Byzantine Empire once it split) ruled the area from the 1st century BC until the Arabs conquered it in the 7th century AD. For the next 800 years the area changed hands between the Arabs, Crusaders, and Mamluk until the Ottoman Empire arrived in 1516. They ruled over the land for 400 years until the Arab Revolt during World War 1 (think Lawrence of Arabia). Of course, the British and French had different plans than the Arabs, who were thinking of independence, and it would be another 30 years before that would become a reality.
Since Independence in 1946, Jordan has had a bit of a rocky relationship with Israel and some of the other Arab countries. A peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and a more secular and tolerant government has made Jordan one of the safest countries in the Middle East.
In 2016 I spent a week in Jordan after crossing from Israel at the northern land border. I started in the capital of Amman and worked my way south to Aqaba, where I crossed back into Israel. The highlights of the trip were the Amman Citadel, the eastern desert “castles”, Petra, and Wadi Rum.
Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations
Most people go into Jordan from Israel only for a day trip to Petra. Let me tell you this is a huge mistake and they are missing so much! I was here with my girlfriend and we loved everything about this country. The food was unique and good, the people friendly, and the culture inviting. In fact, she still talks about our time there. About the only thing I did not like in Jordan was only staying a week and missing a few sites like Jerash and Karak Castle.
A recommendation I have for you is to get the Jordan Pass before you arrive. As long as you stay more than three nights it covers the visa fee you have to pay, a ticket for Petra during the day, and entrance to over 40 other sites and museums.
The itinerary I recommend would start in the north part of Jordan and see Jerash (a top 10 Roman ruin in the world), the castle at Ajlun, and the Pella archeological site. From there head to the capital of Amman, where you will find enough to fill a day with the citadel being the highlight. From Amman I highly recommend you hire a cab to take you into the Eastern Desert to see at least three of the “Five Desert Castles” (Qasr Al Kharaneh, Quseir Amra, and Qasr Al Azrad are the best and must dos). You can also take a day trip to the Dead Sea from Amman. Now you will want to head towards Petra and can stop at the castle at Karak and Dana National Park on the way. Another high recommendation is to do Petra At Night for your first time at this amazing site and then explore it the next day as well. Next is to spend a night in the Wadi Rum desert with a local Bedouin, where they will give you a day tour through this amazing World Heritage Site. The final stop is beach time in Aqaba.
Soon you can get even more helpful hints by watching the travel video I am making for Jordan. In the meantime, you can use my blog posts below that help make up the Jordan Travel Guide.