Jerash & Ajloun
Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman-era cities in the World, located only 40 kilometers north of Amman.
The history of Jerash can be traced in its name. The indigenous Semitic inhabitants in the 1st century BC called it "Garshu". The Greeks founded "Antioch on the Chrysorhoas", or the Golden River, on the same spot, naming it for the stream that runs through the area. The Romans who came in with Pompey changed the original name Garshu to "Gerasha". In the 19th century, the Arabs arabaized the name to "Jerash".
Jerash was linked to the trade routes by a series of roads that led to other major trade centers like Amman, Bosra, Damascus, Pella and Petra. Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash in 129 AD and a Triumphal Arch was built in his honor near the Hippodrome. Today, the Arch still stands and is in the final stages of restoration.
Visitors to Jerash today have a number of opportunities awaiting them. Chariot races are held in the Hippodrome, which was built between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD.
Ajloun is a remarkable place that clearly illustrates the connections between the land, its people, and the cultures that have created its rich history.
Located in the highlands 70 kilometers northwest of Amman, Ajloun is a green escape. It is a crossroads where people of several cultures have met. Today, Ajloun is an agricultural community with an immense pride in the RSCN's Ajloun Reserve and a deep interest in the ruins and archeological sites being excavated in the region.
This region has been inhabited since Neolithic times. While Ajloun was not one of the cities of the Decapolis, it benefited from its proximity to several of them. The number of early churches and Biblical sites here speak to the importance of the area.
Saladin's nephew built a castle in the late 1180's to protect the iron mines from the Crusaders in the 16th century.