Amman

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Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.

In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans' workshops. Everywhere there is evidence of the city’s much older past.

Due to the city’s modern-day prosperity and temperate climate, almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in the Amman area. The residential suburbs consist of mainly tree-lined streets and avenues flanked by elegant, almost uniformly white houses in accordance with a municipal law, which states that all buildings must be faced with local stone.

The people of Amman are multi-cultural, multi-denominational, well-educated and extremely hospitable. They welcome visitors and take pride in showing them around their fascinating and vibrant city.

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King Abdullah Mosque

Completed in 1989 as a memorial by the late King Hussein to his grandfather, the unmistakable blue-domed mosque can house up to 7000 worshippers inside, and another 3000 in the courtyard area. This is the only mosque in Amman that openly welcomes non-Muslim visitors. The cavernous, octagonal prayer hall doesn’t have any pillars, yet it’s capped by a massive dome, 35m in diameter. The inscriptions quote verses from the Quran.

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From as far back as five and a half thousand years ago amman has played an important role in the economy of the region. It was a prime junction for land and sea routes from Asia, Africa and Europe, a role it still plays today. Because of this vital function, there are many historic sites to be explored within the area, including what is believed to be the oldest purpose-built church in the world.

Downtown Amman - Al-Balad

known locally as al-Balad, is the old commercial area of Amman

The Balad is the oldest section of the city, being the one that was originally inhabited during the Neolithic period around 6500 B.C. The seven jabals, or hills, around it were occupied during the same time and formed the perimeter of the young city, most notably the Citadel atop Citadel Hill.

Downtown Amman is made up of a myriad of souq markets and independently-owned businesses. The area's long history leaves a large number of historical sites, such as the Citadel, the Umayyad Palace, and the Roman Amphitheater.

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Abu Darwish Mosque

On top of Jebel al-Ashrafiyeh' is the striking Abu Darwish Mosque, built in 1961 with unmistakable alternating layers of black and white stone. Non-Muslims are generally not permitted inside, but the views on the way up are good.

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Citadel (Jebel al-Qala'a)

The area known as the Citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel al-Qala’a (about 850m above sea level), and is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon. Artefacts dating from the Bronze Age show that the hill was a fortress and/or agora (open space for commerce and politics) for thousands of years. The complex is surrounded by 1700m-long walls, which were rebuilt many times during the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods.

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The Roman theatre

The theatre was probably built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138–61).

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The restored RomanTheatre is the most obvious and impressive remnant of Roman Philadelphia, and is the highlight of Amman for most foreign visitors. The theatre itself is cut into the northern side of a hill that once served as a necropolis and has a seating capacity of 6000. It was built on three tiers.

Iraq Al-Amir

Iraq Al-Amir is within the municipality of Amman in the Jordan Valley. Located about 15km southwest of the town of Wadi Al-Seer, it has a population of about 6,000 people. Located on the hills, the area has many springs and is famous for its olive trees, in addition to other forest trees. About 0.5km south of the town is the historical site of Al-Iraq. It was built by a Persian prince in the 3rd century BC. There are many caves in the hills that date back to the Copper Age.

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Some precious artifacts, pottery, glass and weapons dating back to the Bronze Age and the Nabataen and Roman periods, as well as inscriptions, gold Islamic coins and the silver Ptolemaic hoard recently discovered at Iraq Al-Amir are displayed at the Exhibition of Arab Heritage and Recent Discoveries, which was opened in 1992.

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