#67 best destination in the world

Madaba Map

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  • Part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George in Madaba
  • The Madaba Map is of the Middle East, and part of it contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem
  • It dates to 542 AD
  • In the eighth century, the ruling Muslim Umayyad Caliphate had some figural motifs removed from the mosaic.
  • In 746, Madaba was largely destroyed by an earthquake and subsequently abandoned.
  • The mosaic was rediscovered in 1884, during the construction of a new Greek Orthodox church on the site of its ancient predecessor

Qusayr ‘Amra

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  • The best-known of the desert castles
  • Built between 723 and 743
  • Considered one of the most important examples of early Islamic art and architecture
  • The building is actually the remnant of a larger complex that included an actual castle, meant as a royal retreat, without any military function, of which only the foundation remains
  • What stands today is a small country cabin
  • Most notable for the frescoes that remain mainly on the ceilings inside, which depict, among others, a group of rulers, hunting scenes, dancing scenes containing naked women, working craftsmen, the “cycle of Jonah”, and, above one bath chamber, the first known representation of heaven on a hemispherical surface, where the mirror-image of the constellations is accompanied by the figures of the zodiac
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amman Citadel

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  • Historical site, an L-shaped hill, that is one of the seven hills (jabals) that originally made up Amman
  • Evidence of occupation since the pottery Neolithic period has been found and the hill was fortified during the Bronze Age around 1800 BC
  • The hill became the capital of the Kingdom of Ammon sometime after 1200 BC
  • It was later occupied by various empires that of the Assyrians, Babylonians, the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, Romans, Byzantines, and the Umayyads
  • After the Umayyads came a period of decline and for much of the time until 1878 as the former city became an abandoned pile of ruins only sporadically used by Bedouins and seasonal farmers
  • Despite this gap, the Citadel of Amman is considered to be among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places
  • Archaeologists have been working at the site since the 1920s, but a great part of the Citadel remains unexcavated

Temple of Hercules (Amman)

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  • Thought to be the most significant Roman structure in the Amman Citadel
  • According to an inscription the temple was built when Geminius Marcianus was governor of the Province of Arabia (AD 162-166)
  • The site also contains fragments of a colossal partly stone statue, identified as Hercules, and estimated to have been over 39 ft tall
  • It was probably destroyed in an earthquake
  • All that remains are three fingers and an elbow

Royal Automobile Museum

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  • Museum established in 2003 upon King Abdullah’s wishes
  • The museum showcases a rare collection of Jordan’s vehicles ranging from Hussein bin Ali’s cars that came to Amman in 1916 to modern sports cars

Jerash

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  • Jerash today is home to one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities, which earned it the nickname of “Pompeii of the East”
  • The earliest evidence of settlement in Jerash is in a Neolithic site known as Tal Abu Sowan, where rare human remains dating to around 7500 BC were unearthed
  • Jerash flourished during the Greco and Roman periods until the mid-eighth century CE, when the 749 Galilee earthquake destroyed large parts of it, while subsequent earthquakes contributed to additional destruction
  • It was captured in 1121 by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, and utterly destroyed
  • Then, the Crusaders immediately abandoned Jerash and withdrew
  • In the census of 1596, it had a population of 12 Muslim households
  • The excavations conducted since 2011 have shed light on the Middle Islamic period as recent discoveries have uncovered a large concentration of Middle Islamic/Mamluk structures and pottery

Little Petra

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  • Archaeological site which like Petra, is a Nabataean site, with buildings carved into the walls of the sandstone canyons
  • Like Petra, it was probably built during the height of Nabataean influence during the 1st century AD
  • Though unclear, archaeologists believe that the whole complex was a suburb of Petra, the Nabatean capital, meant to house visiting traders on the Silk Road
  • After the decline of the Nabataeans, it fell vacant, used only by Bedouin nomads, for centuries
  • Little Petra was excavated in the later 20th century
  • In 2010, a biclinium, or dining room, in one of the caves was discovered to have surviving interior art depicting grapes, vines and putti in great detail with a varied palette, probably in homage to the Greek god Dionysus and the consumption of wine
  • The 2,000-year-old ceiling frescoes in the Hellenistic style have since been restored
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Petra

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  • Historical and archaeological city
  • The area around Petra has been inhabited as early as 7,000 BC, and the Nabataeans might have settled in what would become the capital city of their kingdom, as early as the 4th century BC
  • The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra’s proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub
  • In 106 AD, Petra fell to the Romans, who annexed Nabataea and renamed it as Arabia Petraea
  • Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after an earthquake in 363 destroyed many structures
  • Because of the decline, the site was abandoned except for a handful of nomads
  • It remained unknown to the world until it was rediscovered in 1812
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wadi Rum

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  • Valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock
  • Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures, including the Nabataeans, leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Arabah

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  • Known by its respective Arabic and Hebrew names, is a geographic area south of the Dead Sea basin, which forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan
  • The old meaning, which was in use up to the early 20th century, covered almost the entire length of what today is called the Jordan Rift Valley

Berenice Beach Club

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  • Premium tourist destination in Aqaba, right in the heart of Aqaba’s Marine Park
  • Offers guests an in-house coral reef, and activities ranging from excursions and water sports, to dining
  • Also offers three fresh swimming pools including an infinity pool overlooking the Red Sea
  • Guests can also use sun beds along the beach
  • There are also many shaded areas with water mist sprinklers so guests can stay cool

Costs

Number of Days: 23 days

Best Time To Fly: March-June

Airline ticket: $1,093

Seattle -> Amman (round trip) $1,093

Food: $17/day x 23 days = $408

Entertainment/tours: $451

Airbnb/hotel: $74/day x 20 days = $1,475

TOTAL: $3,427