Jordan Journey: Madaba/Jerash

4 of 4 posts on my 7-day stay in Jordan

As my stay in Jordan neared the end, I looked forward to yet another important historical treasure – the ancient city of Jerash, considered to be one of the best preserved Greco-Roman provincial towns in the world. Dating back more than 6,500 years ago, Jerash was a thriving city due to its proximity to popular trading routes. The walled city was at its best around AD 130 during Emperor Hadrian’s rulership.

Welcome to Jerash:

Overview of the ancient ruins:

Colonnaded streets:



Public buildings:

Hadrian’s arch:

Oval plaza: 

Sanctuary of Zeus:

South amphitheater:

Temple of Artemis: 

   Artifacts:

The hippodrome:

Good-bye, Jerash:

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped by St. Georges Church in Madaba.

To see the beginning:
Wadi Rum
Petra
Madaba

Jordan Journey: Madaba

3 of 4 posts on my 7-day stay in Jordan

Circled in black below are the places we visited while in Jordan. We covered a lot of ground for seven days. After the four days spent between Wadi Rum and Petra, we headed toward the town of Madaba, one of Jordan’s major centers of Christianity with a large Greek Orthodox community. At one time, Madaba was famous for being part of a bishop’s jurisdiction during Emperor Justinian’s reign in the Byzantine times.

As we traveled toward our next tourist attraction – Karak Castle – our tour guide spoke about the Muslims and their beliefs. Originally, I was going to list the interesting points he made to dispel some wrongly held notions about Muslims, but I wanted to learn more. Of the various sites, I settled on this link:  https://ing.org/top-100-frequently-asked-questions-about-muslims-and-their-faith/

In time, I will seek more to further educate myself about the subject. But a key point I want to note now is one of this religion’s fundamental values – namely, “affirming and upholding the sanctity of all human life, taking of which is among the gravest of all sins.” This value is universal to nearly all religions, but some of us non-Muslims may not readily attribute such value to Islam because of “terrorist acts committed in the name of Allah.” Our tourist guide, a Muslim himself, wanted to remind us that there is nothing religious or sacred about purposely taking another life, and that such actions taken by others in the name of religion have been considered fundamentally wrong by most religions throughout history.  Unfortunately, for political and power struggle purposes, man tends to justify his violence to gain a following by claiming to act on God’s behalf. Case in point is the Crusaders, which had a stronghold on a city called Karak. Within this city is Karak Castle, where we began our fifth day in Jordan after Petra.

Karak Castle and Karak Photos

After visiting Karak Castle, we went to Amman Beach Resort – Dead Sea, where we floated for a while in the mineral salts of the Dead Sea and later, some of us cooled off in the “sweet water” swimming pool. Meanwhile, several of us covered ourselves with the natural mineral rich mud, which quickly dried in the hot sun and was then washed off in the Dead Sea. A quick primer on the Dead Sea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea

Dead Sea Photos

Our last stop for the day was Mt. Nebo, a high hilltop vista and pilgrimage site where the prophet Moses is supposedly buried. In fact, you can see Israel on the distant horizon.

Mt. Nebo Photos

First days in Jordan:
Wadi Rum
Petra

Jordan Journey: Wadi Rum

1 of 4 posts on my 7-day stay in Jordan

 Right after Egypt, we flew to Jordan, where we took in another week’s worth of breathtaking sights. Our stay in the beautiful city of Amman was brief, as we soon set out on a ~5-hour drive to Wadi Rum, the desert setting of Lawrence of Arabia’s autobiographical book and consequently, the film that was based on his life. Since then, other movies have been filmed in Wadi Rum (e.g., a couple of Star Wars movies, Dune, Prometheus).

As soon as we reached the park, we transferred to several 4-wheel drive vehicles that we rode through the desert to get to our camp. We spent two days in Wadi Rum and slept in Bedouin tents. Among other activities, we went on a nine-mile trek on the second day.

Next:
Petra

Exploring Egypt: More of Luxor

7th and last of the series on my 7-day stay in Egypt

More sights in Luxor,
Lunch with local family,
And back to Cairo.

 As always, the day began early to see more wonders of Luxor, which used to be the ancient city of Thebes. First stop is the Colossi of Memnon, two 56-feet tall statues on Luxor’s west bank. They represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Next stop is the royal burial site, Valley of the Kings, where over 60 lavishly decorated tombs of pharaohs are located, dating from 16th to 11th century B.C. We went inside three of the four tombs that were opened to the public that day. To help preserve the artwork, the tombs are rotated every year for visitation and renovation. So, in any given year, usually only four tombs are open for exploring inside.

Another noteworthy royal site we visited was Hatshepsut Mortuary Temple, which was built for the longest reigning female pharaoh in Egypt, Hatshepsut. She ruled for 20 years in the 15th century B.C. and was considered one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs.

After our historical excursions underground, we went to a local family’s home for lunch, which reminded me of why I love Middle Eastern food.

Our hearty lunch was then followed by some free time, which was spent learning more about Egypt’s rich history in the Luxor Museum and walking around the city.

After sunset, we all went to the train station for our return trip north to Cairo. That overnight ride on the sleeper train took approximately 10 hours. (Once we reached Cairo by early morning, we flew to JORDAN – the next travel series.)

To see the beginning:
1st day: Old Cairo
2nd day: Giza/Cairo
3rd day: Aswan
4th day: Abu Simbel
5th day: Nile River
6th day: Luxor

Exploring Egypt: Abu Simbel

4th of a series on my 7-day stay in Egypt

 A four-plus-hour drive,
Close to Sudanese border,
Worth all-day event.

 A temple complex,
King Ramses II’s legacy,
To celebrate him.

About Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is a small village where Pharaoh Ramses II had built a temple complex to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Within the complex are two temples – the Grand Temple and the Small Temple. The Grand Temple showcases carvings and hieroglyphics that indicate homage to several ancient Egyptian gods, along with a record of Ramses II’s noteworthy life events. The Small Temple is dedicated to Ramses II’s favorite wife, Queen Nefertari.

The temples were relocated about 200 meters further inland and 65 meters higher up in 1964 to save them from going under the Nile River due to High Dam. The Abu Simbel temples are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List (as of 1979).

Inside the Grand Temple

Next day:
Nile River

To see the beginning:
1st day: Old Cairo
2nd day: Giza/Cairo
3rd day: Aswan

Exploring Egypt: Aswan

3rd of a series on my 7-day stay in Egypt

Took train to Aswan,
Southernmost part of Egypt,
Traveled thirteen hours.

From mainland to isle,
Boated to Philae Temple–
Temple of Isis.


Next sights were High Dam
And Unfinished Obelisk,
An ancient ruin.

Our Nubian host
Talked about their history,
And prepared a feast.

Next day:
Abut Simbel

To see the beginning:
1st day: Old Cairo
2nd day: Giza/Cairo